Saturday, July 30, 2011

Guest Blog - Artist Robin Roberts

Scary Things  by Robin Roberts
"Fencesitters" ©Robin Roberts   18x24 oil

Why would attempting something new or different be scary?   Collectors and others who don't paint might not realize that it can sometimes take guts for an artist/painter to try something different.     Or there might be a reluctance to try something different from rules and guidelines we've been taught.  Or to do something outside what family or friends think is "pretty".   Or do something that might not sell - something outside the artists'  perceived typical work.   
As you follow you'll notice I'm using different brushwork, using my modest drawing skills to "shape" rather than draw;  avoiding  "staying between the lines";  deciding which compositional guidelines to use and which to change for this particular painting.   Trying something different and having fun watching it unfold.   If I allow myself, it can be like watching a movie.  Other times a painting requires periods of concentration and might be successful, but they just don't flow like the ones that I play and experiment.    I'm willing to play and let it fail and use the opportunity to fix" it, or throw it away.  Every one doesn't need to be a finished product. 

next to last step, notice the verrrry yellow foreground - partly intended to add warmth underneath the cooler grasses at the end (above).   Trees were lightened and texture added in the grasses.  
Starting:   I'm avoiding sharp delineation lines as long as possible because I can direct the viewers' eye by making sharper definitions at the very end.  That will only take a very few marks.   This is laid in with a chip brush from the "home store" to get the rhythm and light/dark composition. The canvas is ordinary cotton that I've gessoed with Utrecht brand professional (artists) gesso.
....the next photo below shows 3 horses against the fenceline in shadow. That's the part that really caught my attention.   I attended a Dawn Whitelaw workshop sponsored by Dot Courson.  Dawn encourages painters to hone in on the aspect of the scene that inspires the painter, leaving all else subordinate.     That's one of the scary parts - I want it ALL -  the deer, the waterfall, the mountains, the lake, the cows,the fence, the flowers,  the sunset, the sunrise all in one painting.   If we were photographers, we would move around to compose a scene.    Painters have the ability to LEAVE IT OUT.   There's where our power lies.    Why would it be so scary to leave something out?

horses added, the overlapping dark one after this.....
palimino on the right...with values and colors the same as the tree line.
below: the front horse taking shape.....I recognize the silhouette and begin to block in the dark, light and color on the horse shape, putting them in like jigsaw pieces without blending, piecing the horse together like a quilt. Each value of color gets an individual mix meant to go in a specific place. Sometimes it might take the flick of a brush, or a drag or applying with light swipe - sometimes it takes the brush at a 90 degree angle, but most often the back edge of the brush held horizontally.
You can notice more of the patchwork effect.   I'm using a bristle flat #6 or 8.  All the colors and values are there - now I'll adjust the blocky color shapes with more blocky color shapes in between, and - magic!  it comes together like it's been blended.   See the ear on the left and the ear on the right with nothing in between?   Find the colors and shapes of the top of the neck and the light on the hip in the finished painting.  And the legs.   With more "looking I see purples , blues, and oranges and try to play  it up, still keeping the quiet time effect by not using the more intense colors.    Notice the horses were not drawn in first.     They are "shaped" according to my sketch or reference material.    If I drew them first I would tend to "fill in the lines" and the foreground or background wouldn't be continuous.   Some values and colors are the same as the background as they are in nature, making the horses part of the environment. 

One thing I've learned - about a third of my paintings are flops.  It's something I accept and enjoy that learning process.
p/s  students teach me in my monthly painting class at Hobby Lobby in Decatur Al. 
I've enjoyed chatting about painting with you!

Oil painter Robin Roberts has lived in 5 states, but north Alabama roots keep her grounded. Inspired by ordinary views by the side of the road, Robin seeks nobility in the everyday scenes we encounter. Her southern landscapes draw us into the excitement and mystery of light and shadow, bringing to life that delicate time of day that is so fleeting. Through vigorous brushwork, delicate touches, subtle color combinations and unusual compositions we are able to see the common transformed into places you know by heart. Robin is equally attracted to painting animals and the figure as well as her signature landscapes.

Many national and regional artists trained her to translate a vision into beautiful canvases by painting outdoors on location. This is Robins’ favorite method, and it allows her to add truth to larger paintings.

She received many awards, but finds the biggest reward is when someone passes by and says “ahhhhhhh” and knows a painting has touched a chord in the heart.
Originally from north Alabama, Robin’s family lived in Iowa twice, Texas twice, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana. That southern orientation emerges in the oil paintings. Now Alabama again presents wonders begging to be brought to life.

Robin’s collectors find her art at: Dragonfly Gallery in Fayetteville Tn; ARTifacts Gallery in Florence Al; Renaissance Gallery in Northport Al; Kathleen’s Fine Art in Decatur Al, Ashland Gallery in Mobile Al, and Charleston House Gallery in Montgomery Al or www.RobinRobertsArt.com
Robin Roberts
512 Dogwood Place SW
Decatur Al 35603

Robin's journal of painting blog:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

No, I Don’t Do Festivals…

...but it's not because I am shy - I LOVE to speak! 
Dot Courson as a Lauren Rogers Museum of Art - ART TALK speaker to patrons.

Once someone local finds out for the first time that I'm an artist- they always say:

"Are you in the Gum Tree Festival in Tupelo?"

Then they may ask,
"Well then: Do you do the Double Decker in Oxford?!"

I get up my courage, shake my head and reply,
"No. Nope, I don't do festivals!

...Not that there’s anything wrong with it! It’s not them. Its ME! 

I tell them that I'm showing my work exclusively in  galleries. Southern Breeze Gallery in Ridgeland, MS - a wonderful owner who takes care of my work – hangs it beautifully, runs magazine ads, represents me online, and is always there to work hard to show my work to collectors. I’m also in Caron Gallery now and they are wonderful too! They are super nice folks! If you haven’t been –Go! It just keeps getting better!   
Susan, my daughter and Faith , my granddaughter's "Nature Club" at a Girl Scout function in her own tent where she sold jewelry this spring. 
But I’ve definitely thought about doing festivals. Once, I even went and took photos of tents in festivals that I thought I could use for my art. 

I must have “festival envy”...

On perfect days it seems fun. And I definitely could reach a lot of people who could get to know me and become more familiar with my art and I could possibly be better known as an artist “around my hometown” and in the region too. Also, I'm a fairly outgoing person.  I love meeting and talking to people, especially about art.  I take Cane my little art dog, and visit festivals and usually buy pottery or jewelry and unframed paintings at times.  Cane loves festival hot dogs! I love meeting the artists. Artists love artists!
I think Cane had gone exploring at this time....
Sometimes I do wonder if festivals are not better for artisans and potters and crafts and those who paint small and make prints to sell? They are brave souls who endure the elements- heat, cold, rain, noise and smells- and show there!  
But it’s the weather elements involved in art festivals and I shy away from situations where heat stroke is a real possibility, or my work could get damaged. 

I tend to “kid glove” my work... 

Also, I paint a lot on linen and don't want to leave it outside - exposed to the elements! Also, tents – that's another thing:  How could I hang my larger “over the sofa” and “over the mantel” paintings?  I’m just not a tent person!  

So I don't do festivals to sell my work, I do festivals for FUN! In good weather….

  • Are you an artist that does festivals? 
  • What is your experience? Where do you like to buy your art?

BTW-Southern Breeze Gallery was named THE BEST ART GALLERY IN MISSISSIPPI by Mississippi Magazine last year by reader survey!  They run ads to market my work and at my shows she always has scrumptious horde'vours,  horsd'vours...appetizers ...and serves wine in long stem glasses. I get to dress up "delta casual" - and visit with collectors and my supportive art friends who show up at my shows to take a look at my latest work and visit while I'm in town.
An art sale at a Solo Show.
BTW- I Made the record for highest sale price EVER for that gallery!

I will have a show in Southern Breeze Gallery in October of this year!
 Hope you come!

During this years Tupelo Gumtree Festival,  I was on the next block outside Caron Gallery in Tupelo  painting a plein air street scene.. My pholosophy: I'm a partner with my galleries!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Artists Packing for a Workshop: Lists and Tips

I got a list...
You got a list...
All God's Children Gotta list....

Jackie and I are getting ready to host another workshop. Dawn Whitelaw will be here a little over a week and we are communicating with all the artists who are probably packing. I'm thinking of my own list of things I need to do as well as sympathizing with them. All of the artists will drive in. Most will be in hotels. It's a lot of work to get ready to leave home to go to a workshop. You must pretty much pack like you are plein air painting- well, except for the bug spray!  But of course you have to pack clothes, toiletries, etc..

Not counting what was back in the hotel room, nor the equipment I had set up outside that I was using to paint with at the time that this was taken- here is (no kidding!) a photo of the "stuff:  in my van -that the Gadsden Times took while I was painting nearby at the Southeastern Plein Invitational this spring:

I finally wrote my own travel art supply list as a Word document, and put it in my computer a few years ago. I added to it as I thought of things/ or added to it after trips as needed. I have a "general travel list" and an "art trip" pack list. I'm a simple person and this list is simple. I have it all at the end of this blog.

Then coincidentally, tonight I was listening to an archived e-radio broadcast on Artist Mentors Online - a very good blog by Kevin McPhereson that my friend Judy Crow of Texas told me about today- (THANKS, JUDY!) Joanna Arnette was on a broadcast with Kevin giving tips about "traveling light".These two travel abroad and are all plein air painters. Her tips:

  • Take tubes of paint until they are half full (or empty!) saved from previous trips. She takes them when she wants to go ultra light. Like up a hill walking. 
  • A Benroe tripod (only 1.6 lbs!)
  • Rolling backpacks. I like the half-full tube idea- but I dislike rolling backpacks since they are heavier when you DO carry them. That's something to think about. 
  • She also takes her canvas affixed to multi-media boards. She said when you put 32 together that it only amounts to only a one inch stack! She sometimes affixes these to stiffer boards/panels with clips if she wants them stiffer.
  • Another helpful thing she said is this: Watch how many brushes you use. Usually it's only 3-4. How true! I usually pack dozens and only use three! 

So this blog topic about traveling had to be destiny: Just last night I had been looking at josephineandlaurentina.website where an acquaintance's daughter -a local Mississippian- is the model who is the "face" of that clothing line. Somehow while getting all dreamy about this amazing Kennedyesque lifestyle of living  in the Hamptons and traveling to Rome, etc (dreaming) I ended up on a website called what2wear.com where I saw a travel list [just for women] of toiletries that was quite good. Most of this list is supplies that some may need.  I found it interesting, and you may like it too and find it helpful. Usually, though I don't list toiletries on my permanent list. Here's what I do: As I shower/dress to go on a trip instead of putting it back as I use things, I just toss it into my large overnight makeup bag! I then just grab some painting clothes together and go! Very un- Kennedy -like!
So her's my own
Workshop Checklist :   

 View Finder
Solvent in brush washer
Wet canvas carrier
Paper towels
Drinking water
Bug spray
Compact mirror
Trash bags
Art Notebook
Folding dolly
Business cards

Laptop with plug-in
Camera /charger/ extra batteries
Dot’s pillow
Medicines/ Rx Plus other and vitamins
Phone chargers
Dot’s cell

Things I've forgotten to bring on trips include brush washer, tripod, easel & even canvas!!! 

Honestly I believe that the best tip for artists about lists is to make your own list and put it on the computer. It saves time and headache. 

By the way: I think that there is NO SUCH THING as a "light" art trip!

Do you have good tips for domestic travel that you don't mind sharing? If so, I'd like to hear them! Please email them to me at artist@dotcourson.com or share them here in comments! 
Artist at Work! 

Friday, July 8, 2011

My Painting Process: The Old Run

This painting is named "The Old Run" as suggested by my husband. A creek is sometimes channeled into a new creek and the older creek area where trees and stumps remain is called "the old run."
The Old Run 40x30 Oil. ©Dot Courson
 I started this 40x30 oil painting on a Wednesday afternoon and the painting was done by 11 PM. I was using Liquin and Alkyd white- a fast drying white paint. All other paints were oils. The colors I used were Ultramarine blue, Cobalt blue, Cerulean blue, Cadmium red light, Cadmium yellow light and Permanent rose.

This was painted in my studio from a photo my husband made in Hickory Flat, MS near his parents home at Frank Thompson Lake. It was a beautiful evening and the leaves on the lake are actually a moss, I think it's called Watercress.
Photo Reference

Using this photo print as my guide I started massing in and designing the painting on a white canvas indicating the color. I brightened it up in some areas. I decided to omit the white distracting cattails in the foreground.
 The dark area of water in the middle will be for the shadows of the trees on the other side of the lake. I just massed in the background for the reeds and cat tails in the foreground in the left corner.
 Adding color with a large brush I continue to work...Instead of dots for the leaves I mass areas in when it's in a distance. Your eyes see this as one mass anyway, so that's how you paint it.
 Here I'm breaking up the brush strokes in the front. And finished the details of the logs and dead trees: detail work.
And here it is almost finished in my studio. You can actually see the reference photo lying on the left side of the easel.

Here is the painting framed and ready to be taken to the gallery.
The Old Run 40x30 Oil ©Dot Courson

See more of my paintings at www.dotcourson.com !