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Carroll Street water tower – 101/2 ” by 14″ – watercolor on Masa Paper
June was one of the wettest on record here in NYC. I think it rained every day. July was one of the hottest with temps in the 90′s and with the humidity making it feel like it’s in the 100′s. And don’t even get me started on what it feels like down on the subway platforms. I feel like I’ve been damp (a nicer word than sweaty) for two months. Apparently you can’t use the word moist since a study showed that people HATE that word. I never had a problem with moist especially when it’s paired with the word “cake”.
Well, I guess I’m mad for masa now. I so enjoyed the first one I did here that I immediately started a second one.
Here’s what it looked like after I toned the masa paper, drew the image and laid down the first washes.
I’ve already got another piece toned and ready to go. Using the masa paper and toning it first is allowing me to be freer with colors. Once the paper is toned you now must work with the toned paper and sometimes colors aren’t where you’d expect them to be since you are toning the back of the paper.
a strong red that is deeper than geranium, yellower and deeper than geranium red, and bluer and deeper than average cherry red
How did I know that? I was looking something up on the merriam-webster on-line dictionary and came across 10 definitions of colors. http://www.merriam-webster.com/top-ten-lists/top-10-words-for-unusual-colors/vermilion.html Now really, would you describe vermillion that way? It almost sucks the life out of the color!
And for no reason, here’s a picture of my dog.
Well, I finally did it. A painting on Masa paper. And here it is. Ever since I saw Leslie’s paintings on Masa paper I’ve wanted to try it. So what did I do when I wanted to start this project? Go directly to Leslie’s blog, search for masa paper and viola! Step by Step instructions. She’s the best. I also visited Beth’s blog because she has paintings on Masa paper too. Here’s my quick tutorial.
Get some Masa paper. Cut it to about a 1/2 inch all around shorter than your watercolor paper. Take a sharpie and put a small dot on the shiny side of the masa paper. The masa paper has a shiny side and a fuzzy side. The shiny side is considered the “right” side, but I’ve read blogs where people have painted on both sides. For now we will go with the shiny side as the correct side.
Ball it up and wet it until it’s soaked through. Squeeze the water out of the ball and then CAREFULLY un-ball the masa paper. Check out where your sharpie dot is. I put mine on the bottom right corner. It might bleed through when the masa paper gets wet, but if you lay down the paper with the sharpie dot in the same place, i.e. the bottom right corner, you’ll know that’s the shiny side. Now, flip it over to the un-shiny side with some paper towels underneath. Spread it out and “tone” it. Toning it means you take some of your watercolor paper and paint the back. Keep in mind what it is you want to paint. I think I toned mine to dark, but hey, that’s the way it goes.
Let dry and then, using matte medium mixed with a little water (3:1) spread it on the back of the toned paper, flip it over and adhere it to your watercolor paper. Spread out carefully on the watercolor paper, let dry and then paint!
Now, some people draw on their paper before balling it up and wetting it. My drawing disappeared in the water. So I just waited and drew on it once it was all dry.
Lately I’ve noticed so many young men with big, full beards. I am not a fan of big, full beards. They look itchy. And I always think food gets caught in them. When I see someone in the neighborhood with a big beard my mind goes through the following list:
- Hasidic? – Probable considering where I live. There’s even a site called hasid or hipster.
- Muslim? – Ditto.
- Amish? – Possible but not probable.
- A member of ZZ Top? Doubtful.
- Hipster? YES!!!
What is up with beards lately? And why are so many of them red? Even when the guy’s hair is not. Why do hipsters embrace beards? And why are they all so skinny. (The hipsters, not the beards?) And why do they often complement that look with a fedora? I have so many questions.
Now of course there’s another definition for a beard. That’s the lady friend of a gay man who does not want to be seen as a gay man. But there were no beards out today during the always fun and amusing Gay Pride parade today in Manhattan.
I’ve completed these two paintings and now need to start something else. I find it interesting that the palette in both paintings are similar. The Husband, who has been making noises about moving out west even noticed it. I told him we can frame them together as a country/city duo.
Happy 4th of July to all of you in the USA.
Last night I took a special basic beginner yoga workshop at a local yoga studio. I was the oldest person in the class. I cannot move today. I’m already on my second dose of ibuprofen. They have yoga classes for kids and pregnant women, why not for people who have AARP cards? You know, older, stiffer, heavier people, not those 20 year olds with no body fat. Really, what do they need yoga for?
Not long ago I also took another basic yoga class at my gym. That one was a little easier, but so far I’m not feeling the so called benefits. However, I am stubborn and will continue until I can walk down a flight of stairs on my hands with my feet behind my head. Or die trying. (If anyone wants to offer odds, I’d suggest go with the “die trying” as the safer bet.)
I told my friend about the class and she said she liked the yoga part but didn’t like all the woo-woo stuff that goes with it. Bring your chi up through your center and breathe.” My friend says “leave my chi alone. Nothing to chi here!”
I laughed. But I like the woo-woo stuff. I don’t necessarily believe it, but I want to (just like I want to like yoga). For the woo-woo stuff I watch the TV show LonG Island Medium (The “G” is hard if you live on LonGIsland!) Besides the over-styled, over hair sprayed hair and those fake nails, what fascinates me here is a woman who says she’s a medium (a person who can communicate with the “other side” or dead people.) She does a reading and when she tells someone something like “Spirit is telling me you just ironed your dead husband’s shirt” and the person says yes, Theresa, the Long Island Medium will SCREAM “SHUT UP!” and be more surprised than her client. Why is she surprised? She does this for a living. I’m confused.
Have you ever been to a medium? I’ve only been to larges. (That was a super-bad joke, sorry.)
The Husband is still talking about moving out west. In preparation, I’m still doing paintings of mountains and trees. Although the top row looks a little like a skyline to me. You can take the girl out of the city….
This is a work in progress. I did some washes and will go back and define some of the trees and see if I can get some mist going in the trees as well. Stay tuned.
I finished the sea lion on the rocks painting from the previous post which you can see here.
Galapagos Sea Lion – 1/4 sheet arches 140 # coldpress
I was going to call this painting “sea lion on the rocks” but I thought it sounded too much like a cocktail. What are the ingredients for a Sea Lion On The Rocks? Here ya go:
Add a little ice and voila!
I liked my Sandy Sea Lion and my Galapagos vacation so much that I wanted to do another painting of those adorable creatures. Sea lions are usually very light brown to very dark brown but when wet they can look black. This one must have come out of the water not long before we came upon her lounging in the sun because as she started to dry she got lighter on her head and neck.
As I started drawing the sea lion on the rocks it was really hard to get her face. To me she had the face of a puppy and the body of a sea lion. Maybe I created a new mythical creature. Like the griffin which is a legendary creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion; the head and wings of an eagle; and an eagle’s talons as its front feet.That’s why I need a cryptozoologist. To help me make famous this newly discovered puppy-lion.
[krip-toh-zoh-ol-uh-jee] noun - the study of evidence tending to substantiate the existence of, or the search for, creatures whosereported existence is unproved, as the Abominable Snowman or the Loch Ness monster.
Hopefully by next week she will look more like a sea lion and less like a mythical creature.
The Husband continues to tell me that he wants to move out west. West where? New Jersey?
But no, he’s talking West, West. Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, California West. I say I’m not ready to move out West and what if no one out there likes me? Like Marisa Tomei said to Joe Pesci in “My Cousin Vinny” ”oh yeah, you blend?”
I probably won’t blend.
The Husband laughs and tells me he will come back to NYC and visit occasionally. He’d probably like this small house we saw in Rocky Mountain National Park. It seems nice and quiet for him. I need a little more action. Luckily, I check my spam folder occasionally. For some reason besides sites to learn how to lose belly fat, increase the size of my man part and how to get low interest loans, I get a lot of dating sites.
- eHarmony (run by Mormons, so I don’t think I’d get any dates here)
- Zoosk ”find new flirts”. I don’t even like the word Zoosk so I probably wouldn’t like anyone who’s on it.
- Senior People Meet Dating (I’m already insulted)
- Jdate – for Jews to meet Jews. I doubt they’d want to meet a lapsed Catholic
The last date I had was before some of the newer analysts in my office were born. I don’t want to date. Then I would have to be nice and pretend to care about someone I doubt I’d like. I’m very happy with The Husband and plus now he has TWO Titanium hips. Now THAT’S a catch.
Since neither he nor I can retire yet the whole point is moot. But it’s fun to talk about it.
The painting above was done from a reference photo we took while in Colorado in April. It was very cold and there was quite a bit of snow. But it really was beautiful and we saw tons of elk. Ok…maybe with a little time I could be convinced to move with the Husband. SOMEDAY. We’ll see. I sketched the scene and then used a lot of masking fluid to save the white of the paper. I then did the sky and the base snow. As I painted I thought that I really wanted to save the whites and keep the feeling of cold and snow. After painting the house I added a bit of green for the pine trees and then decided to stop. Less is more.
Where have I been? probably no one’s been asking. That’s ok. I’m gonna tell you anyway. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but titanium is the Husband’s.
My husband had his second total hip replacement this week. It was on the other hip, but I didn’t get a picture of the x-ray so I’m re-posting the one from 2008. Just imagine the exact same thing on the other side. It was done at the Hospital for Special Surgery formerly known as the Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled. I am not making that up. It is an amazing hospital rated #1 in the US for orthopedics and is the place to go if you need this sort of surgery.
I stayed at my friend Judy’s whilst The Husband was in the hospital since HSS is practically in the East River (which is really a tidal basin and not a river) and I had to take the 6 train to get there. The 6 is ALWAYS crowded. (2nd Ave. subway, oh when will you be finished?) And Judy lived closer to the hospital.
Normally I stare at the brick buildings across the street from my apartment. But I had views galore this week. In the hospital it was a view of the 59th Street Bridge (a/k/a Queensborough Bridge) which Simon and Garfunkel sang about while feeling groovy. And at Judy’s I had a wonderful view which I painted here.
I did get to do a little painting and worked more on the church window.
Spring has arrived in NYC which means the cherry blossoms are all a-bloom. The Husband and I attended the Sakura Matsuri festival this weekend. This is an annual Japanese Festival celebrating the cherry blossoms and Japanese culture. We saw a group called taiko-masala which featured traditional Japanese drumming. They were great, but not that great that the Husband had to purchase not one, but TWO CDs of Japanese Drumming. I predict a headache in my future!
Another interesting thing about the Sakura Matsuri festival is that there are a lot of people in costume. Not just traditional Japanese costume, which is cool, but people dressed in what I think are anime and sweet Lolita characters. I don’t know for sure, but there were a lot of young people there with tails, cat ears, bright pink and green wigs and creepy contact lenses which made their eyes white.
And these were some of the more normal looking folks there.
Apropos of nothing, I had a hankering for some junk food. Potato chips are my favorite, but I spied a bag of Cheetos “simply natural” that advertised it was made with expellier pressed oils (huh?) sea salt, no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and as a special added bonus it was gluten-free.
I felt so healthy I ate the whole bag.
The painting above should have been of cherry blossoms, but I haven’t done one yet, so I’m posting this work in progress of a church window. I liked the sky reflected in the glass and the branches and leaves. While I was painting it I thought of the two instructors recently (Antonio Masi and Joel Popadics) that both said similar things. They paint with the lines going into the paintings. Don’t paint with your lines going out of the paintings or people will just move on. So of course when I started painting this I had the tree branches leading right off the page, so I turned it around and have the leaves now hanging down into the center. Now you can’t move on. You must stay and gaze. :)
And now some good news from the medical industry. Guess what, a recent study shows that if you have existential angst, and really, who doesn’t, taking Tylenol may help! You can read all about it here.
- A feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general.
- A feeling of persistent worry about something trivial. Anxiety
Rocky Mountains, Colorado – Watercolor on 1/4 Arches 140 # cold press
Two weeks ago the Husband and I took a trip to Denver to attend the opening of Sense and Sensibility, The Musical at the Denver Center Theatre Company. My sister, Alice the overachiever, is co-producing this show and I am happy to report that the opening was a grand success and the reviews were all fabulous! (Yay Alice!) The play is based on Jane Austen’s book and I was thrilled to see some people attend the show in full Regency costume. Oh those Jane Austen people. If you’re in the area, don’t miss it!
We also got to experience three, count ‘em three, seasons in one week in Denver. We arrived to a balmy mid-seventies day only to find the temperature drop dramatically and the wind pick up. And then it started to snow. I wore my winter silks thermal underwear more that one week than the whole winter in NYC. Ok, that may have been too much information regarding my underwear, but still…baby it was cold outside. It slowly warmed up again and we got outta there just in time. Denver got three more feet of snow right after we left.
When not attending theatre openings we ventured out into the mountains and museums. The day it snowed we went to the Denver Museum of Art and the Museum of Nature and Science. We were also able to visit Rocky Mountain National Park and Red Rocks Amphitheatre where my brother who does not read my blog chose to do his imitation of Bono of U2 saying “this is Red Rocks” about three billion times. My brother can say anything three billion times. He always makes me laugh.
The mountains were spectacular so of course I wanted to paint them. I decided to try a style I saw demo-ed at the Salmagundi Club. The demo was by an artist named Joel Popadics. He only does at a maximum three washes of color. If you recall (and if you don’t you can read my previous blog post, I’ll wait for you.) I had taken a watercolor workshop with Antonio Masi who can do up to 60 or more washes of color on his paintings.
Boy was I confused.
I wanted to do this painting with fewer washes of color than I normally use, which I did, but ended up doing more than three. (But not 60.)
The frigate bird I was working on is here. I don’t remember if it is a “GRAND” or “MAGNIFICENT” frigate bird because I’m sure I was drifting as the naturalist in the Galápagos
droned on and on talked about the different kinds of frigate birds. I almost said “frig it” to the painting, but it’s another learning opportunity. Antonio Masi told us never to throw anything away. We can go back and look at it later on and learn from it.
And for a laugh here’s me with my Peruvian Hat and some shades I found somewhere between Denver and Boulder. My brother who does not read my blog claims I look like someone looking for the medical marijuana store. Dude!
I had the pleasure of taking an Antonio Masi workshop at the Salmagundi Club in NYC. Antonio is a warm, charming man who paints large (40″ x 60″) watercolor paintings of NYC bridges. He also has a handlebar mustache which he clearly waxes and which I was fixated on. He’d come over to look at my work and speak with me and all I could think about was “what is that look all about?” Anyway….
He demonstrated how he paints his bridges, but also spoke of his thinking behind all his paintings. He does lots of sketches in a small (3″ x 5″) sketchbook with a sharpie marker and a small black gel pen to get the shapes and the composition. Then he does some larger value studies with three main things in mind:
- What is my focus?
- What do I want to say?
- Paint shapes, think edges.
Antonio told us something Leonardo DaVinci said: ”If a painter doesn’t have a plan, it’s like a sailor without a map or compass.”
Antonio continues doing small paintings until he is ready for his large piece. At some point he puts his reference photo aside and just works from his studies. And then he will finally put his studies away and just focus on the painting. What’s going on in here? Sometimes Antonio (Tony by the end of the workshop) will only use his studies and put in what he can remember from his time on location. If he can’t remember it, it obviously didn’t impress him that much, so he doesn’t put it in.
Antonio made sure to impress upon us that our goal was not to slavishly follow a reference photo/study/or even plein air drawing. It was to really think about what was important to you when you were attracted to the landscape/still-life/portrait. Tony also stated many times that he is NOT a colorist, but a value painter. He also has no problem mixing opaque white in with his other watercolors. (Interestingly, he started out as an oil painter and still mixes his paints with a palette knife.) He likes the opaque white, he feels it cools the painting down, pushes some areas back and creates atmosphere.
It was a very interesting class and while I didn’t complete any paintings per se, I learned quite a lot.
On another note, remember I told you about Isabella, a young artist who comes to our studio sometimes. She worked on these trees, which I painted a while ago, based on my reference photo of the cherry blossom trees in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Here’s hers:
I always look forward to the Cherry Blossoms and check their status here.
Finally, just so you don’t think I’m lying about (laying about? I never understood the difference) eating bon-bons and not doing anything, I started another Galápagos painting of a magnificent (or is it a great) frigate bird and a turtle. It may be a diptych, or may be two separate paintings. I don’t know. I do know I own a scissor. I can cut that baby right in half if I need to. I hope I don’t end up cutting it to shreds as I’ve been known to do.
Antonio said we shouldn’t throw out our bad paintings. But keep them, to look back on.
Two last things. If you’re in NYC: Some amazing exhibits at the Brooklyn Museum, particularly John Singer Sargent watercolors: http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/sargent_watercolors/. (Did you know he used both transparent and opaque watercolors in his paintings ) And an exhibit by El Anatsui which I absolutely loved. http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/el_anatsui/. The American Watercolor Society show is at Salmagundi and my blog friend Frank Eber is in it.http://www.americanwatercolorsociety.org/a_exhibitors.php?year=2013.
And if you’re in Denver, go see Sense and Sensibility, The Musical. http://senseandsensibilitymusical.com/. My sister, the overachiever, is one of the co-producers and it opens this week. BREAK A LEG, ALICE! I’m very proud of you.