Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Long Dry Spell---"Is That Artist Block?"

I see that my last blog post was September 5th, and today is November 8th. With October being one of the most beautiful months in Indiana to paint the landscape, I'm shocked that I didn't manage to paint even one canvas.  There were many interruptions, like cleaning off the vegetable and flower gardens and going to Appleton, Wisconsin for a conference on hand papermaking.  But when I really look at the month, I realize that I had a severe case of artist block.  I even read four John Grisham novels.  Could seeing my paintings hanging in a gallery cause fear-of-failure?

Well, I broke the spell this past weekend with a 16" x 20" oil of a bend in Moot's Creek which meanders around on the south edge of Brookston, where I live.   It's a studio painting from a photo reference and several trips to the site to see the color and light.  First, you'll see the beginning of the painting on the easel and then the finished piece.

"October on Moot's Creek", Oil, 16" x 20" © Kathryn Clark
Well, I think the spell has been broken; I'm energized again and am looking forward to applying paint to canvas.  

This month, I'm also donating an oil painting to the main fundraiser for the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra.
 "Plucked Tree Peony", oil, 14" x 11", © Kathryn Clark

The ICO sent the invited artists three musical works on a CD to inspire the painting.  I chose William Bolcom's Concerto in D or Violin and Orchestra because it is quite dramatic and yet intimate and delicate at the same time.  http://www.icomusic.org/ .  If you'd like to bid on this painting, you can contact the ICO office on their web site. 

With the Halloween demons put to rest, I hope your November will be enjoyable and fruitful.  Thank you for viewing my art.  

Monday, September 5, 2011

"From Sketchbook to Canvas"

For a painter, or any artist, the process of creating is the "reason for being", the thrill of trying to solve a self imposed problem.  It's about learning, self discovery, and sharing your personality with the viewer.  Rarely does the viewer get to see anything but the final result.  This month, I'm participating in an exhibition at the Tippecanoe Arts Federation, Lafayette, IN, with three other painters (Therese Lynch, Margaret Hanke, and Susan Doster) in which we'll hang fully developed oil paintings along with their sketches, field studies, and progressive photos.  You'll get to learn how paintings are created. The exhibition opens Friday, September 16th at TAF, 638 North St., Lafayette, IN 47901.  You'll also be treated to gypsy jazz music by The Hot Club of Colfax with my husband, Howie, playing his rhythm guitar.   I hope you can come!!  If you can't make it, the exhibition will be on display through October 21st.  Sept. 16th is also the evening of Art Walk in Lafayette with many other exhibits open to the public as well.  

In this post, I'm going to show you the development of one painting which will be in this exhibit.  "April Morning:  New Harmony, IN" is a featured painting with sketches, a field study, progressive photos, and the final, large developed painting.  

Thumbnail sketch and Value Study

"Field Study" painted plein air in New Harmony, IN, April 2011, 8" x 10"

"Initial Drawing" on  18" x 24" linen, oil primed canvas with a brush

"The Block In":  large areas are indicated with general color

my palette, brushes, rags, and odorless mineral spirits

Finished painting, "April Morning: New Harmony"  oil on linen canvas, 18" x 24", August, 2011 in my studio

This will give you a preview of the Tippecanoe Arts Federation exhibition this month--Oct 21. If you get to see the full exhibition, I'd certainly enjoy your comments.   You can see this and all my paintings on my web site along with purchasing information.  www.kathrynclarkfineart.com

Now I have another treat for you.  After I sent my post about the West Baden Springs Hotel Paint-Out, I found out that the Brown County Art Gallery in Nashville, IN, http://www.browncountyartgallery.org/westbaden/springshotel.html who sponsored the event, created a great video of it.  You'll see Howard playing his guitar and hear him playing the background music at the beginning of the video.  You'll also see me painting along with others, the huge domed atrium of the hotel , the sale of paintings on the veranda, and the very last painting they show in the video is my finished plein air of the hotel.  Here's the link:http://www.browncountyartgallery.org/westbaden/paintout.html

The fall is going to be busy and exciting around here; I trust it will be for you too. 


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Famous West Baden Springs Hotel

In my last blog, I gave you a "teaser" about the soon-to-happen paint-out at the 1902 West Baden Springs Hotel in West Baden, IN near French Lick and Brown County. http://www.frenchlick.com/aboutUs/history/wbsh This is how one of the web sites describes it:

An Historic Indiana Luxury Hotel
Enter the splendid atrium of West Baden Springs Hotel and feel transported back to its halcyon days. Once dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World” for its seemingly implausible six-story, free-span dome this landmark Indiana luxury hotel has been meticulously restored to its original 1902 grandeur. Timelessly elegant, this well-appointed Indiana luxury resort is a true American classic.
Timeless Elegance within this Landmark Indiana Luxury Resort

Embark upon an unforgettable Indiana luxury holiday within the grand West Baden Springs Hotel, offering two extraordinary spas, 45 holes of legendary golf and an elegant, Beaux Arts gaming establishment. 
Well, my husband and I had a fabulous time there.   The huge grounds and gardens have been beautifully restored including the four Spring Houses where visitors at the turn of the century would drink the natural mineral water for their health.  All of this spectacular architecture and gardens offered the artists a bounty of subject matter to paint.

My husband, Howie, and I spent a night in the spectacular hotel with its huge dome on the fifth floor overlooking the atrium.  Before sinking into the elegant sheets, we listened to some wonderful jazz (piano, base, drums) in the hotel along with a delicious meal.

Howie never goes anywhere without at least one guitar so you may notice a guitar and banjo behind him in the corner of the room.  He's content to play for hours while I paint, and the other artists love the background music too.   

As you can see, we all had a blast of a time, and Howie even got his portrait painted by Chris Newlund.  I painted that view of the hotel in the first photo of this blog and finished a good painting.  However, I can only show you the painting in progress because I intend to submit the finished painting to the book Painting Indiana III: Historic Architecture.  We aren't allowed to publish any paintings to be submitted so here's my painting in progress:

The canvas panel is 9" x 12" and is certainly more than half complete but just not finished.  However, this should show you the view and the impact of the painting.  On the final day of the Paint-Out, there was a very successful Painting Sale on the veranda with wine and cheese for collectors and the public to see the freshly painted works along with framed paintings we brought from home.  A big "thank you" to the sponsors of this event:  Indiana Heritage Arts org. and The Brown County Art Gallery. http://www.browncountyartgallery.org/indiana/heritagearts.html

From Sketchbook to Canvas:  Four Artists Show the Process
On September 16, an exhibition opens with my paintings along with three other oil painters at The Tippecanoe Arts Federation in Lafayette, IN.   Because this is a noncommercial gallery, we've decided to let it have an educational bent by explaining the painting process with sketches, field studies, and progressive photos of the finished work while it was being painted. My next blog will show you some of those things----so stay tuned.

If you've enjoyed this blog and know others who might also, please send this to them so they can sign up to receive it by e-mail or become a "follower".  I'm excited to see this group growing to include people from all over the world, and you know how I love to get emails from you.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Indiana Dunes & Our Inland Ocean

Sometimes we in the Midwest forget that we have our own freshwater ocean called The Great Lakes!  Personally, I have been extremely negligent about appreciating and enjoying this amazing body of water, I'm sad to say.  This past weekend, I rediscovered its beauty and the sheer delight of watching all the families playing at its shore.  Sun and Sand!!  Can't beat that combination at Indiana's National Lake-shore, part of the  national park system.  http://www.nps.gov/indu/index.htm and the Indiana Dunes State Park http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2980.htm. I went up with a painting buddy, Margaret Hanke, to participate in a paint-out sponsored by the Indiana Plein Air Painters Assoc. http://www.inpainters.org/, basically two days of painting where ever we wanted near the Dunes and Lake Michigan, then getting together at the end to see all the paintings complete and incomplete.   

I finished two paintings at the Dunes and put the final brush strokes on the third today.
"Indiana Dunes Lake Shore", 9" x 12", oil on canvas panel

This is a very happy painter, having found some afternoon shade after painting in full sun in the morning. All plein air painters try to paint within a time window of three hours (one painting in the morning, one in the late afternoon) because the sun changes radically after that amount of time.  Here's the painting I did from this spot:
"Indiana Dunes--Beach Play", oil on canvas panel, 9" x 12"

The quantity of sand on the Dunes is astounding!!  Some of the dunes are more than forty feet high! and we climbed one called Mt. Baldy, but this isn't it.
"Indiana Dunes--Pines",  oil on canvas panel, 8" x 10"

We're planning a fall trip back up there to see how the landscape changes color with the dying foliage and the fall light. It will no doubt be a tad cooler too which will be greatly appreciated.

My next painting excursion will be to the famous and elegant West Baden Springs Hotel in Brown County Indiana on August 19th and 20th.  Click on this link to read about French Lick and its amazing history and restoration!  http://www.frenchlick.com/aboutus/history/wbsh  and the West Baden Springs Hotel with its amazing dome--an architectural feat!  http://www.frenchlick.com/hotels/westbaden   I'm so excited to spend a night in this incredibly beautiful, turn of the 19th century hotel.  At this paint-out, the painters will be able to sell paintings completed there and to also bring other finished and framed paintings.  All paintings will be sold directly by the artist, so I hope you can come and find me.  I'll be painting outside the hotel on the porch or the grounds and will have previously finished paintings with me.  "Saturday, Aug. 20th, there will be a reception in the hotel lobby and library area from 3-5pm with music, food, and wine.  Artists may display paintings on the veranda just outside the library to sell during the reception.  Three works at a time are allowed."  If you know people who might like to attend this wonderful opportunity to see both beautiful paintings and beautiful architecture, please forward this blog to them.  

August is the crescendo of summer!  It's hard to fit it all in!  Thank you for reading about my painting life and viewing my efforts.  I always love to hear from you...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

"Seafaring Wreck"

On the South Carolina coast in the barrier islands, this old hull spoke to me like a beached whale, still breathing. 

"Seafaring Wreck", 14" x 11", oil on canvas panel, studio painting from photo reference

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Summer is All About the Color Green

Tomorrow's the 4th of July, and already it's so hot and humid I feel like I need to swim through it sometimes.  Presently I'm reading Pat Conroy's South of Broad which takes place in Charleston, SC, the city near the barrier islands of Seabrook where I painted in the relatively dry spring.  He describes the summer in Charleston as being even more humid than Indiana so I shouldn't wine too much.  The other thing about summer that painters want to wine about is the color green--there's just tooooo much of it in the landscape.  Painting in the summer is all about seeing how many variations of the color green we can come up with.

This is my first painting of the summer, and I'm trying to discover some of the greens in the trees over Burnett's Creek outside Battle Ground, IN.   I've included a photo of the initial drawing on the (oil primed) linen canvas with its "block in" to show you how it looked as I began the painting.

"Sultry Afternoon on Burnett's Creek", 20" x 16", oil on linen canvas

This is how it looked when I "finished" it yesterday.  But I'll put it away for a week and then see it fresh to determine if I need to tweak it one way or another.  If you'd like to make a comment, I'd love to hear them.  And please forward this on to anyone else you think might like to see it.  Hope the summer's been good to you so far and that you're staying relatively cool.  

Sunday, June 19, 2011

33rd Indiana Heritage Arts Juried Exhibition

Indiana Heritage Arts is a nonprofit organization with a mission of nurturing the rich art heritage of Brown County and the famous Hoosier Group Impressionist painters from the turn of the 19th Century.  http://www.browncountyartgallery.org/indiana/heritagearts.html That group included T.C. Steele, Otis Adams, William Forsyth, and Otto Stark among others.  This exhibition is perhaps the most important annual exhibition for realist painters that happens in Indiana.  Any painter who has ever lived in Indiana can enter.  All original paintings must be delivered to the Brown County Art Gallery for jurying.  This year the juror was Kathryn Stats, a fabulous landscape painter from Utah.  http://www.kathrynstats.com/   Collectors seek out this exhibition to purchase the best paintings by the best artists in the state.  I was delighted to have two paintings accepted and to win an Award of Merit for "January on Moot's Creek"  http://kathrynclarkfineart.com/works/569710/january-on-moots-creek.  This is the other painting that was accepted:
"Voyageur Sailing the Wabash"  oil, 14" x 11"

This exhibition is still on display, but only till June 25th.  It's at the Brown county Art Gallery, corner of Main and Artists Drive in Nashville, IN.  open till 5pm each day.  I hope you can work a visit into your busy schedule this week.  Their phone is 812-988-0099.

Along with painting landscapes out in the elements, I'm trying to paint in my studio some this summer from "field studies" (smallish plein air paintings) and photo references.  In this way, I'll hopefully be able to create a couple of larger paintings for a fall exhibition that's coming up fast. 

Also on a techy note about this blog, Google now offers an option for blogs to be viewed on iphones and other android devices, so I have applied that format to this blog.  You can now see it on any computer device for your convenience.  I don't have any of those devices so I can't see what that looks like.  So I hope you like what you see.  Let me know.  Your comments are always enjoyed by me, and I hope you'll enjoy the rest of June!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Silent and Beautiful Salt Marshes of South Carolina

My painting buddies and I just returned from a barrier island off the coast of South Carolina called Seabrook, about a thirty minute drive from Charleston. Three mornings of the week we were there, I walked from their home out on to this vast, still, quiet, salt marsh to try to capture its beauty.  Because the marsh is ecologically fragile and filled with deep mud, tall sea grass, tiny crabs, and other small wild life, there are wooden board walks above the sea grass that slink out into it. This is where I painted.

"Salt Marsh Channels", oil on linen board, 9" x 12"

This is the second view of the salt marsh which I painted from the dock in the main water channel. 
"Salt Marsh Dock", oil on linen board, 12" x 9"

Back on our host's porch, I made some final changes.

Although we didn't get a chance to paint along the ocean side of the island, we did take many photos of the ocean, boats, and much more.  Here are a few pics to give you the flavor of the place:
The commercial fishermen were out shrimping when we were here.  
The restaurant to the right where we tasted the local catch looked out on a dock of charter fishing boats. 
I hope your sun is setting in a beautiful spot as well.  Until next time......I'll be finding exciting spots to paint back home in Indiana. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Painting a Fishing Boat is Getting Me In the Mood for Summer!

"Tied Up in Newport Harbor, Oregon"  14" x 11", oil on linen panel

This spring, I haven't been painting as much as I did last spring.  So to get in the mood for summer, I painted a commercial fishing boat that catches crab in Newport Harbor, Oregon.  This painting was done from a photo that I took last summer when I was there and was painted in my studio over two days, about five hours total I think.  Another reason I painted this is that, in a few days, I'm going to Seabrook, SC with a couple of painting buddies (Therese Lynch and Margaret Hanke) to paint (of course).  I suspect there'll be lots of boats there, and I had never painted a real, traditional fishing boat so I thought I should give it a try before I get to the ocean in South Carolina where we'll be painting plein air.  I loved the reflection of this bright blue boat in the water and its juxtaposition to the yellow and orange boats.  Never knew commercial fishing boats were so colorful!  Life is Art and so is fishing!

Several people reminded me that, in my last post, I raved about Twinrocker Handmade Drawing Paper but didn't include the link to their web site.  Here it is:  www.twinrocker.com.  If you want to get a swatch set, ask them questions, or place an order, their toll free 800 number is on their web site also.  Paintings and drawings on my web site are now for sale through PayPal and include packing and shipping.  www.kathrynclarkfineart.com  My next post will hopefully include some paintings from Seabrook, SC---sun and sand, oh boy!  Thank you for your comments and for viewing this blog.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Drawing the Figure at the Lafayette Art Museum

11" x 14"
It's difficult to explain to a non-artist how intensely enjoyable it is to look (gaze, stare, scrutinize) an object, landscape, or figure for an hour or more without stopping.  However,  it's almost unimaginable how FAST the time flies by when I'm drawing or painting it. That is interpreting the subject on paper or canvas with pencil marks or brush strokes,.  If I wasn't drawing the subject, it would probably be impossible to sit and just look at a figure for an hour. But when you draw or paint it, you're constantly comparing, adjusting, asking yourself, "Is it too big or too small, too high or too low, too dark or too light?  What part do I want to emphasize?  How will I lead the viewer through this?" and on and on...

10" x 7"
12" x 12"
Then there's the beauty of the mark itself to consider, i.e. the calligraphic stroke, be it pencil, pen, or brush and the sweep, looseness, pressure on the paper.   
10" x 7"
10" x 7" 
In the beginning, there is the gesture of the figure to consider, especially in a quick 8 minute study as in the two figures above.
11" x 14"
14" x 11"
And one of the MOST IMPORTANT things to choose are the MATERIALS AND TOOLS I'm going to draw or paint with.  After all, the materials I choose are what the viewer will actually see and possibly own and live with.   When drawing, the pencil and especially the paper is crucial.  The paper needs to be responsive to my touch, beautiful to see (as the drawing itself will cover very little of it) and yet tough and erasable.  That's why I always draw on Twinrocker handmade paper.  This paper has a sensitive, natural look like the marks I'm making on it; it's not mechanical looking like machine made paper.  Consequently, it's much more fun to draw on than machine made paper, and the result shows it.  Twinrocker paper is also completely archival, cotton rag, and light fast so the drawing on this paper, colored with pigments, can hang in someones home without ever fading.  Sometimes artists think handmade paper is too good for them or too expensive, but a large sheet of Twinrocker drawing paper, in a Text or Heavy Text weight is about the price of  lunch.

Well, I guess I sound like an advertisement, but if you purchase one of these drawings, you'll see what I mean.   All these drawings are priced at $45 which includes packing and shipping in the lower 48 states.  You can see them in a larger format and other work as well on my web site  www.kathrynclarkfineart.com  .  I'm happy to  say that soon, all the drawings and paintings will be available for purchase on my web site with PayPal, hopefully within the next few days.  I'm trying to make it easier for people to purchase works without having to contact me.  Thank you for all the comments and thoughts you've sent.  I enjoy them very much, and remember I'm happy to answer any questions whether it's about art, ideas, materials, or techniques.  Please share this with friends who may be interested.  And thank you for viewing this blog.   

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Paint-Out in New Harmony, IN

There were about 150 artists at the Paint-Out in New Harmony, IN, "The First Blush of Spring", perhaps the most ever, and the weather was predicted to be good and bad.  The tiny historic town near the tip of the boot of Indiana sends everyone who visits back in time, and spring is a lovely time to be there.  The first day was sunny without a cloud in the sky.  I painted along a little wooded creek just behind the New Harmony Inn, a little 8" x 10" oil supported on my "Easy L" pochade box.
I love the delicate pale green color of spring leaves as they begin to leaf out along with the color and reflections of the bridge and trees in the creek.  The New Harmony Paint-Out has an event called "From Field to Finish" in which the artist paints a small "field study" (no bigger than 12" length) during the paint-out and then paints a larger, more developed painting at home in the artist's studio from the field study.  Just before the next year's paint-out, the artists send their field study and the larger, finished painting to the Hoosier Salon Gallery in New Harmony to be exhibited and possibly to receive a prize.  I plan on painting a larger, finished painting of this image from this field study for this competition.
My husband, Howie, entertained me and other artists as we painted.  He plays in two bands and needs his practice time too.  It made for a very pleasant afternoon.  The next day, we woke to rain and wind with a miserable forecast but went ahead and set up our easels under a very large awning in front of a great coffee shop in the center of town.  The coffee warmed our fingers and dispositions.

Slowly, the temperature warmed too; the rain stopped and the clouds even parted occasionally to let the sun through in the afternoon.

 Another artist and musician, Rick Wilson from Edinburgh, In, joined Howie who was playing banjo and another visitor joined the jam session with his banjo.  Several of us were singing harmony as we painted, and all of a sudden four more artists showed up to paint the musicians.
This is what "paint-outs" are all about, painting little plein air studies of the landscape and having a great time with other painters, meeting people and making new friends.

Now I'm home and trying to get my vegetable garden in if it will ever stop raining.  One note that is a follow-up from my last blog:  my painting "Winter in the Lilly Garden" which is in the Indiana Artist Club competitive exhibition at the Indianapolis Art Museum won an Award of Merit which made me very happy indeed!  You can see that exhibition through June 5th.  Also, the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette just had their paint-out this past weekend with perfect weather.  I was on the paint-out committee but managed to finish one painting which I'll post in my next blog after I photograph it.  More about that event then, and that's all for now.   Stay tuned...

Please share these ramblings with whomever you think would enjoy them, and you can see more of my paintings on my web site at www.kathrynclarkfineart.com.  As you know, your comments are always appreciated.