Thursday, July 31, 2014

"Field Games" figure, pastel, 11 x 14"

"Field Games"  1 x 14" pastel
I was doing my usual strolling through the living museum of Colonial Williamsburg when I saw this young lady, dressed in full colonial garb, playing field games with a group of kids.  She must have been very devoted to her work because it was  mid July and scorching hot with an intense light and heavy humidity.

I hoped to capture the atmosphere  and energy of the heat around her as she bent to pick up the ball and paddle.  She very kindly posed for several photos, and I hope to paint more of her.

This painting was unusual in that it was the my first attempt to use watercolor under pastel instead of my usual diluted pastel underpainting.  I used Winsor and Newton's Quinacridone gold on a sanded pastel paper to create a value structure. Much to my surprise the sanded paper accepted the watercolor almost as well as watercolor paper.  You can see some of the gold tones of the painting under the drawing.  My next challenge is to try to leave more of the painting showing under the pastel.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

"Silhouettes" and "Cards"

"Silhouettes" 8 x 10" Charcoal 
"Cards" 8 x 10 charcoal

"Cards 2" 16 x 20, Pastel
One day I joined a friend for a walk through Colonial Williamsburg.  I found these two young ladies sitting in a side building of the Wythe house, waiting for children to arrive to play colonial games and learn to cut silhouettes.  The light was bouncing all over the place and reflecting off of the white walls, so I snapped their photo.  I redrew the woman playing cards because I wanted to experiment with warm and cool light and reflective light and cool shadow.  The interior of the room was fabricated by using photos of the manor house at the Powhatan Plantation, located at the Historic Powhatan Resort, where I worked at the time.  I have a real love for that house and everything in it, so I enjoy incorporating it into my work. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

My husband and I were wandering around Colonial Williamsburg one day last fall and I saw this man standing behind his counter and posing exactly like this as he gazed out the window.  The lighting was perfect, his expression serine but contemplative.  I thought  also that his resemblance to Ben Franklin was astonishing, so I drew him when I got home.  I changed his appearance slightly, based on other portraits of Ben.  Ben did visit Williamsburg of course.  In fact, he got an honorary degree from William and Mary.  Bet you didn't know that did you?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

catching up with the last 3 years.

I was encouraged by my friend and "A"rtist mentor, Rita Kirkman, to resume my blogging.  I found the site, logged on and was really ashamed to see that I have not posted anything in almost 3 years!  (Hanging my head in shame.) Ok, my first entry will be sort of long so that I can catch you all up.  I promise that they wont all be so long and rambling.
 Here is a painting that I did in my spare time several years ago. I did a bunch of things like this while I was still working full time.  "Purple in Green Field" 16 x 20, Watercolor. 2010
So much has happened in these 3 years. I have experienced an amazing, almost metaphysical transformation of my art.  God and my guardian angles have a funny way of leading me out of situations that are not meandering me towards my true goal it seems.  I had this little job at a time share where I taught arts and craft classes and did quick profile"street" sketches in pastel.  My job there became increasingly uncomfortable as the years progressed. My manager at my day job even let me bring my paintings into work towards the end, and on the slower days I could paint all day.  It still just wasn't right through.  I could feel it in my bones that I was not in the right place.  I don't mean that I think I was too good for that or any job, I just mean that it wasn't enough.   My greatest regret was that I had not satisfied my dream of being a real Artist. I took a deep breath, gritted my teeth and quit my day job at my beloved resort.

I was permitted to draw and paint at my day job the last few months that I was there.  I cranked out a bunch of these little charcoals, using photos of docents at Colonial Williamsburg.  "Rebecca in the Sun"  8 x 10 Charcoal.  Fall, 2013

Here is one of my angels.  I believe very much that we are all surrounded by our passed family and spirit guides.  Mine have been smacking me upside the head lately.  "Bubbles"  charcoal on vellum over grey paper, 12 x 16.  Fall, 2013

Ok, one problem solved, but I still had another.  I was a coward.  I was afraid for anyone to see my real work in person.   I have always sketched quick portraits in front of people, but that is not the same thing as doing a show.  My first attempt was 9 months ago at 2nd Sunday's art fest in down town Williamsburg.  It took family and friends many hours of needling, pushing and nudging me, but I finally did it. Shirley, who runs the event every month, has been patient beyond the call of duty.  My husband made me a simple display, bought a cheap tent and I hung up a mish mash of stuff I had been doing in my spare time over the years. Something amazing happened.  It felt right. Suddenly I was attracting other artists who were willing to help. I was finding the information I needed and painting 7days a week, almost all waking hours. I was ablaze.  I seemed to have put on a pair of glasses that magnified every color around me. In these past short months I have done 1 juried show, 8 non juried shows at 2nd Sundays, got accepted into a Richmond gallery competition where my paintings hung next to real Artist's paintings and have been invited to two more juried shows this fall. I teach my first pastel workshop this fall at a gallery in Williamsburg.  I wont be teaching street art, or kids finger painting, I will be making Artists!

       Here I am doing demos from photos at 2nd Sunday.  People love to stop and watch me draw.

My tent with my  husband's home made display.  Spring 2014 

Why did it take so long you ask?   I did have some bad experiences over the years, but mostly it was because I came to define myself as an art robot.  I was not a real Artist.  A friend who has been in the street quick sketch industry since the 70s, and who is also very gifted artist who has low art-esteem, describes himself this way.  He is not an artist, he is an art whore.  Isn't that horrible?  That is how I felt though.  I sort of felt like Julia Roberts in that movie, "Pretty Woman", before she met Richard Gere.  My art-esteem was cheap, money driven and invisible.  So, you know what I did?  You wont believe this but I quit quick sketching too! If I was going to win, I had to quit the bad thought processes and everything causing them. Yep, 30 years of supporting myself as a street artist in amusement parks, hotels and resorts and I just walked away.  I am done. I am not judging my many friends who still sketch, but for me it was sucking something vital out of me and I was ready to move on.

My pastels started to get more vibrant as time went on. I did this portrait of my brother Stephen Christoff  last winter.  Someone actually bought it!  wow, shocked me!  "Balladeer"  16 x 20, Pastel.  November 2013

It must appear to viewers that my work is all over the place and unfocused because in the past 9 months that I have been showing I have been learning so quickly.  Most artists do not jump so fast from one style to another, that is professional suicide, but I was doing just that because I seemed to have eaten that little vial on the table that made Alice in wonderland grow grow grow.  First I hung my watercolors and oil still life.  Then I figured I should paint what I love, so did charcoal images of colonial people, since I love our local history, and also of angels, since I have a few great friends hanging around up there in the spirit world.  One day I realized that I should pick one medium instead of being all over the place, so I choose pastel. Everything seemed to burst into full color.  Pow!  Then, I somehow morphed into doing primarily animals.  Makes sense, I have been a pet portrait artist all of my adult life and I love animals, why not?

I have started  using sanded pastel paper with a rubbing alcohol under painting. This little guy made it into a juried show in Richmond!  "Roost"  8 x 10, pastel  July 2014

This is a portrait of my studio mascot.  His cage is next to my table and I let him out to nibble my toes now and then.  He is a quirky bearded dragon.  He joined the painting above in a show called Reigning Cats and Dogs at Cross Roads Art Gallery in Richmond. "Solace" 8 x 10, pastel July 2014

Now, I have a big art trailer, a brand new tent, a professional display and a studio that seems to be shrinking.  Well, that's enough rambling for today, its time to go paint.  Thanks Rita for your constant encouragement and help. I will try my hardest to post daily, even if it is really short.

My newest display.  2nd Sunday Art Fest, July 2014