This is the first painting of my new endeavor, called The Innocents Project, in which I will paint the innocent children caught up in the tragedy that is the Middle East. My intention is to raise awareness and funds for the benefit of the children. This is the Ein El'Hilwen Refugee Camp in Lebanon, southeast of Saida. It "houses" 120,000 people. I am working directly with ANERA, American Near East Refugee Aid, on this project and thank them for allowing me to use their photos as references. They do great work in the Middle East, supplying humanitarian aid to Palestinians and other communities in Lebanon and Gaza. More details about this project will emerge in the days/weeks/months ahead. www.anera.org.
"788 But Tell Me, Where Do the Children Play?" acrylic - 12x24 in
American Near East Refugee Aid
(ANERA) addresses the development and humanitarian needs of
Palestinians and other communities in Palestine and Lebanon.
Through partnerships and close consultation with local groups and
communities, ANERA responds to needs with sustainable solutions and also
delivers aid during emergencies.
- See more at: http://www.anera.org/about-us/mission/#sthash.JHLJ9hcc.dpuf
This painting of a vintage car at the Wigwan Hotel on Route 66 is headed to its new home on Monday. Credit goes to my cousin, Jeff Rashid who took the perfect reference photo, and graciously shared it with me.
This past weekend, I attended a workshop taught by one of my very favorite artists, Tom Nachreiner. It was held at the Mainstreet Art Center in Lake Zurich, IL and it was a very valuable, yet humbling experience. At Tom's suggestion, I decided to work with my new friend or foe, (depending on the day) water soluble oil paints. We were each given the same photo reference and I was not prepared for so much detail---there were at least 13 signs in the original!!!! Tom started the workshop with a demonstration, and early on, I texted my husband, "I'm in way over my head." It was really fun to see all the different ways the participants approached the task and a great learning experience. One day soon I will tackle the second day's photo, a farm scene, which I hope I am more successful at. I may even repaint this scene with my acrylic paints to see how that turns out.
If every day of winter had sunshine and beautiful shadows, perhaps I would like it more. Our winter here in Milwaukee has been fairly mild this year, but there have been many grey days. I love the way the shadows of the trees stretch on the snow and the colors of the shadows.
This is another scene from Tanzania of an acacia tree, photo taken by my friends, Ann and Steve. I am very drawn to these beautiful trees in photos and paintings, but am not sure I have ever seen one in person, although I learned through research that some varieties grow in the United States in South Carolina, Arizona and Hawaii. I particularly like the Umbrella Acacia shown in this painting because of its graceful trunk and the shape of its foliage, sometimes called the thorn tree acacia.
As I was reading about the Acacia, I learned that gum arabic is derived from this tree, and I have used it as an adhesive and an additive to ink for calligraphy purposes. It is also a common ingredient in some beverages (Fresca, RC Cola, Root Beer) and in Altoid mints, gum and M&M pretzels, as well as in perfume. The wood is used for hardwood floors and furniture.
As you can probably see, I enjoy learning from painting different subjects. I learn something new from each new painting, in this case, not only about the Acacia tree, but another lesson in painting with oil paints.
I am constantly reminded to squint when I am painting so as not to paint harsh lines and fussy details, in fact, I recall with a smile that in one class, our instructor asked us to smear Vaseline on our glasses to blur the image we would see. It was a fun exercise. This photo (reference) was very blurry because we were clipping along in Door County. I just can't resist a photo op when I am in the passenger seat.
We spent the weekend in Door County, where the tourist season is wrapping up. Many of the stores, restaurants and galleries will be closed by November 1. The Fall colors were beautiful, even on the grey Friday, and the cold, rainy blustery Saturday. Sunday was beautiful with blue skies, a perfect day for a walk on the Sunset Trail at the Peninsula State Park. I took many photos from the car while in motion, otherwise we would have worn out the brakes.
Anyone who lives in my neighborhood knows EXACTLY where this scene is. I see it every day and approach it head on with this magnificent Ginkgo tree, a real beauty to behold. The other trees are in full Fall color now, and are so beautiful, but competing with the Ginkgo.
I am not a big fan of heights, but I was determined to walk on the Rio Grande River Gorge Bridge located about 10 miles northwest of Taos. It is the seventh highest bridge in the United States, and the 82nd highest in the world! As you walk 565 feet above the Rio Grande River, with hands clutched on the railing, you can feel the vibration of trucks passing you on the bridge. The view was so spectacular with all the various ridges and beautiful colors, and I was happy to be stable enough to take photos. Sadly, there are a lot of suicides from this bridge, and there is a button to push for you to talk to someone to get help, should you feel hopeless.
"704 View From the Rio Grande River Gorge Bridge" acrylic - 12x9 in
This is the last of my paintings from New Mexico. We parked along the roadside with this view of the Rio Grande Gorge, but didn't have more than a couple of hours there, so I sketched, knowing I wanted to paint an abstraction of this magnificent scene. I had a few colors of paint that were still "alive" on my palette, and slapped them on the board. Since I've been home, I've obsessed about the green portion to the point of ridiculousness. Abstraction does not come naturally to me, but I think I like it. Only time and more practice will tell.
03 The Giant Crack in the Earth" acrylic - 12x24 in
When we visited Ghost Ranch during our recent trip to New Mexico, I completed my first painting and had a few minutes to spare before leaving this beautiful place. I quickly sketched another mountain scene visible from a quarter turn from The Pedernal, and quickly blocked in colors. I wanted to completely abstract what I saw, which was so magnificent that I couldn't imagine tackling it realistically. This is such a style departure for me, but I really enjoyed it---it was very liberating. I am sure there are more abstractions in my future. I would love to know what you think!
Here is the photo I took of the visita.
"699 Another View From Ghost Ranch"
acrylic - 9x12 in
The day we painted the Rio Grande was the most difficult of days, as it was hot and windy, and as any plein air painter knows, the scene changes quickly and often. I positioned myself down close to the river and found the gentle sounds of the flowing water so relaxing. There were a lot of ants and bugs and pollen (ah-CHOO!) and suddenly the wind took several of our easels, paintings, umbrellas crashing to the dirt, or in some cases, down the rocky hill. The painting then had "texture" and the umbrella was demolished. Despite all of the above, I enjoyed this day so much and this is my favorite of the eight paintings from New Mexico.
As I have repeatedly said, plein air painting is not for sissies. And that's the truth.
"698 The Rio Grande River at Arroyo Hondo"
acrylic - 20x16 in
During my recent Art Lady trip to New Mexico, we visited our old "friend," Ghost Ranch, a tranquil and beautiful place. I struggled with the decision as to what to paint, but finally realized I had to paint the Pedernal, as Georgia O'Keefe did so many times. I recently learned that she thought if she painted it enough times, God would give it to her. I think she "owns" it.
This is the second painting completed en plein air during my recent visit to Taos, New Mexico. We were very fortunate to visit and tour The Couse-Sharp Historic Site during the 100th anniversary of the Taos Society of Artists. Joseph Sharp and Eanger Irving Couse were two of the original founding members of this society, and were devoted to painting the Native American Indians. Messrs. Couse and Sharp, along with the four other original members of this society, found Taos t o besuch an inspiring place to paint, as did I, with its mountains, forests, clear blue sky and beautiful sunsets.
The Art Ladies were grateful to be able to paint in such a beautiful and comfortable spot. The views of the mountains, trees and chemisas were breathtaking, and in my foreground, there were changing groundcover. I was drawn to the strong vertical of the trees. We had a little downpour but were able to lunch on the porch of the house until it cleared up. All in all, it was a great day and I left with many, many reference photos for future paintings.
"696 View from The Couse-Sharp Historic Site" acrylic - 11x14 in
I am gearing up to paint landscapes and painted this from a photo I took on a previous Art Lady trip to New Mexico. This is one of many spectacular views from Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico.
Here is a great description of the area, taken from Ghost Ranch's website:
"...The skies and land are so enormous, and the detail so precise and exquisite that wherever you are you are isolated in a glowing world between the macro and the micro." Ansel Adams
I am happy with this painting, and really enjoyed painting it.
I am preparing for a plein air painting trip to New Mexico with my Art Lady friends,
and am trying to learn to abstract the landscape. We had a workshop on this subject which was very beneficial---we painted with our fingers, or palette knife--no brushes. The photo reference for this painting was taken on one of our prior trips to New Mexico. I have a lot to learn.
"692 Softer Side of the Chama River"
acrylic - 9x12 in