Friday, May 30, 2014

Rain, rain, bring it on!

We're due for some rain around these parts. We used to live in the Dallas, Texas area and I'd tell my sisters in North Carolina, "don't worry, we're having a real good storm here and we'll send it to you in two days." Sure enough, a drencher would appear over NC in just a couple of days. We're keeping an eye on the weather in Texas and are expecting storms tonight and through the weekend. 

Rain barrels used to be a popular item back then and folks would capture the water for their summer gardens. Remember when ceiling fans made a comeback? Well, I guess the same could be said for rain barrels. Wonder why those two good ideas ever went away in the first place?

For the past three years now I've been privileged to be invited to participate in the Athens-Clarke County Green Schools Program by painting a rain barrel. About a dozen artists each painted their own rain barrel (provided by the county) and then they were part of a silent auction for the local schools.

I was happy to meet the kind couple who purchased my first rain barrel and the barrel is still in good shape, even though it's been outside doing its thing for three years. Guess it's because the rain barrels were run through a local paint shop and had a good layer or two of clear coat applied to them. Makes all the difference in the world.

This piece is titled Does this Rain Barrel Make Me Look Fat? and depicts a mermaid who has swum a little too far upstream and gotten trapped in the rain barrel. She is a wild-haired redhead who is reflecting on her situation in a hand held mirror. Of course mermaids are vain, so rather than thinking about her predicament, she was wondering how the rain barrel made her look.

Here is a look at some of the details:


Bring on the rain, our mermaid's ready!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The story of haint blue

Larry and I are frequently tooling around on the weekends and we like to pause in small Georgia towns. There's usually a traffic circle with an old courthouse smack dab in the middle of it. I was taking photos of this old mansion (now up for sale). Locals say it's been many things, a wedding/event venue, a tea house, a lawyer's office, and most recently a meeting spot for a local art group.

When we're near these old houses, I like to take a peek up under the porch ceiling (or veranda in this case). Yep, there it is more often than not, the color we in the south call "haint blue."

Now if you look up the definition of haint, you'll see a ghostly connection to the word. When my two sisters and I were girls and we'd come in for lunch looking all scraggly (imagine a screen door banging shut three times here), mom would say "go comb your hair, you look like a haint." I've lived in the south all my life, but just recently learned about haint blue. 

It seems that old time southerners would paint their porch ceilings a particular color of blue. This color was said to confuse birds and wasps into thinking that the ceiling was actually the sky so they would avoid building their nests up in the porch corners. (You especially don't want wasp nests. The hotter it gets, the meaner they get, so don't mess with them in August, for sure!) It was also rumored to keep haints away from your door. I guest the ethereal shade of blue might make them think they were seeing themselves in a mirror and so they'd run (or fly) away. It also cast a soft shadow on those folks sitting in rockers after supper and the cool blue reflected tint would help give a little relief from the heat. I remember those days of sitting on the porch after supper. Those days before air conditioning became prevalent and we talked to our neighbors who were out there doing the same thing.

So I peeked up under to see this mansion's porch ceiling and yep, sure enough, there it was. Haint blue.

I love the psychology, history, and stories behind color. Think I'll go inside now and see if there's any more of that sweet tea left. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tea With Christy - ta da!

Tea With Christy   ©2014 Joan Terrell
An original oil painting
Canvas size: 24"H x 18"W
$750 + shipping
Frame included (choice of the artist)

When my friend, Christy, says "let's get together for tea," I'm always ready. Although born in the U.S., Christy's heart is usually in the British Isles. Sometimes she is there more than only in spirit because she owns a travel agency and spends her summers revealing the history and grandeur that abounds across the pond. She only takes small groups though, so book early. What a charming name she's given her business, The Mist and the Stone. The table in her home to which we are invited is laden with lusciously tart kumquats (you eat the entire thing, dearie) and sweet early spring strawberries. Spoon out some of the special sugar and enjoy the confectionery fusion exuberance of placing a ripe, juicy grape and a dried fig on your tongue at the same time. Here are photos of some details:

This painting is a breakthrough for me. Exploring the fauvist (literally "wild beasts" in French) art movement has led to a more colorful, freer path that I am now exploring and thank you for joining me on this path via this blog. 

Serendipity and coincidence are fraternal twins. One thing leads to another and discovering the work of Henri Matisse by way of a box of greeting cards purchased at a bookstore at random and then learning more about him via a documentary film entices me onward. Here is a quote by Matisse that I hope helps enrich your experience of this painting.

“I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces upon me. ” -Henri Matisse

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tea with Christy - adding local color

I remember this afternoon so well. The sun was pouring in the window behind the sofa and skipping across the sofa pillows onto the checkered tablecloth. Not without making a stop at the blue vase (a sort of jug actually) into which Christy had placed beautiful pink tulips, though. 

The kettle was on the stove and special goodies had been placed in a clear revolving tray on the table. Christy buys a special tea in England and I can't remember the name of it. It sort of looks like a raw sugar (rather brownish), but is sweeter. 

Local color is starting to be applied with oils here, the blue of the vase and checkered tablecloth, then the purple grapes in the foreground. 

Here's what my palette looked like at the end of this session. Although I use a disposable paper palette, I scrape off the day's musings and reuse each page as often as possible. Sometimes it forms an interesting design. Inspiration can be found everywhere!

From lower left to right top: Lemon Yellow, Indian Yellow, Naples Yellow, Cad Yellow Medium, Yellow Ochre, Ultramarine Blue, Royal Blue, Cerulean Blue, Dioxazine Purple, Alizarin Crimson, Cad Red Light, Permanent RoseRaw Umber, Burnt Sienna, Cad Orange,  Veridian, and Permalba White.

Way too many colors, I know. There are 16 in all, but this is a colorful experiment. <wink> As you can see, didn't even use the orange dab. Maybe toward the end of the painting in an emphasis spot or two. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Tea with Christy - drawing and block in

Here is where we left our "colorful" painting in the last post with Mars Black sketched onto a semi-white background. Some of the previous orange toning from the "before" shows through slightly, but not enough to worry about. Usually, my process is more of a traditional French impressionist style, so this painting will be a stretch goal for me. Who knows what influence it will have on future paintings?

Oh my goodness, I'm not sure if this much fun is legal. Look at these luscious colors, straight out of their tubes. Following a technique used by artist Karen Mathison Schmidt, I used acrylics to establish the "bones" of an oil painting. Each one was thinned a little with a glazing medium. Here they are: Indian Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Phthalo Turquoise, Quinacridone Magenta, Dioxazine Purple, and Brilliant Yellow Green.

The tablecloth is a traditional blue and white picnic checkered pattern, so I drew the crosshair lines to establish the x and y axis so the lines wouldn't go wonky. Trying not to get too technical here, but I have been a technical writer for a l-o-o-o-ng time, so it's hard to resist. I should start a one person campaign to have "wonky" added to technical dictionaries. 

This acrylic under painting will dry in about 20 minutes and then I'll start layering local color over it. Local color is more the color of the actual objects themselves. Hopefully, some of these delicious glazed colors will peek through.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Use it or lose it

Back in October 2012, I was in Dreama Tolle Perry's art workshop in Jacksonville, FL. It was nice to visit Jacksonville again, having lived there the decade of the 70's. Art workshops are like a late afternoon jolt of caffeine. The ideas start swirling and before you know it, you need to hike the A/C up because of all the creative heat coming out of your head.  

I discovered Dreama when she was the co-host of Leslie Saeta's Internet radio program, Artists Helping Artists (or AHA! radio). Meeting Dreama in person was a great experience. She is as breezy, kind, and funny in person as when co-hosting the show. I was there to learn how she uses and controls bright colors so they harmonize, rather than shout.

When you get onto the artist's path, you soon find that art teaches you things about yourself you never knew (or never wanted to know). Trying to create bright, colorful paintings intimidates me. That's right. I tried it once and here's what my nascent adventure into that arena reminded me of:

Not my usual gentle French impressionism style at all. But something kept tugging at my brush and as you know, if you don't use new knowledge soon, you lose it. So here's the first step. Using white gesso, I painted over my orange toned canvas and original drawing (it was hard letting go). Then, shockingly, I boldly used Mars black to reinforce the outlines of the drawing. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, step right up and see the colorful black and white painting. Heeere we go!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Screening calls

My husband's the best. Look at this beautiful screen door he installed just for my studio door (OK, it's the basement door to our house, but still). Perfect for "spring into summer" open door season. The soothing sounds of awakening birds and soft jazz playing is the perfect atmosphere for planning and painting. 

Our 70 lb. black lab, Bella, likes it too, as she lies inside on her comfortable dog bed and occasionally finds the strength to raise her head and woof at invisible threats. 

Bella, who I've dubbed "Pawcasso", was stretched out near my easel this morning ruminating about art. She suggested creating something more playful, more colorful (she insists she is not color blind as is the rumor about dogs)...and oh yeah, the subject matter had to be connected to food somehow. So taking her thoughtful comments to heart, Pawcasso and I will start on a new painting tomorrow. Come join us, and don't forget to BYOMB...bring your own Milk Bone®.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Stairway to inspiration

I usually get up at 5:30 a.m. M-F to paint until time to get ready for the office. Sometimes it's the promise of a new painting that compels me, sometimes it's the thought of my favorite music playing in the studio (love Slacker radio classic jazz). 

The trek down the stairwell to my studio used to be a bland, gray descent, but take a look at the stairwell to my studio now (before and after). French blue handrails, swirly rugs, and steps painted caramel (or peanut butter - yum!). 

The quote on the wall is one of my favorites. "Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." Pablo Picasso  Many thanks to my husband, Larry, for helping to make my daily journey an inspirational one. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Drama Queen

Drama Queen    $1,200
An original oil painting by Joan Terrell
36" x 36" x 1.5"D gallery wrap canvas, unframed

While in the atrium of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, I could see through the glass ceiling that it was a most cloudy day. I wondered why I was there with my camera on such a day because when taking reference photos for paintings, high contrast sunny days are preferred. But c'est la vie, I digress. 

The atrium is huge and its glass ceiling looks like it's about two football fields high. That may be an exaggeration, but what happened next isn't. A shaft of light broke through the clouds and shot down on this glorious orchid, almost as if it wanted to beam this resplendent specimen to another planet for show and tell. I took a photo right before the clouds drifted in front of the sun again.

For one brief moment, there she was in all her glory with her pouty lip, the center of attention, the envy of common pansies, palms, and petunias. If she could have flipped her sepal for this gawking onlooker, she would have. Some paintings just name themselves.

Here's a reminder of how this painting started out...with a humble vine charcoal sketch on canvas. Every painting has humble beginnings, and so do drama queens. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Go big or go home

Drama Queen - first steps (36"x36") gallery wrap canvas 1.5" deep

This time last year, Patricia Fabian and I were furiously painting for our show in the Atrium Gallery of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia (Athens). Of course, they wanted the theme to be florals and plant life. Just so happens that's my natural love. The show ran July and August. What a great kickoff reception we had and while we were partying and enjoying the spectacular atrium gardens, a lovely couple bought one of my paintings!

Since this was a large canvas (36" x 36"), I ordered especially large brushes. These are the type of brushes used by mural artists. As you can see, my studio also needed a large can to contain the odorless mineral spirits - big enough to swirl those big brushes in. Since I don't own an easel large enough for this huge painting, I put two plein air French easels side-by-side. The trick with a gallery wrap canvas is to finish the back first, so the back wire is secured around the back support posts of both easels. The rounds of masking tape up front are to stop the canvas from deciding to take a leap forward. (This canvas was eager to go!)

We even had a graphic designer friend create a logo for our show and advertised it far and wide. Thanks, Cindy! The logo is a double entendre for two artists and because it is usually hotter than Hades in Georgia in July and August.

Friday, May 16, 2014

View from Jenny's Porch... finished

I let this one rest a few days and each time I passed it I tried to figure out what was missing. The shadows. Of course! if you look back at the sketch in this previous post, there's a plan for shadows, but they got painted over, so here's the finished painting.

View from Jenny's Porch
Acrylic on stretched canvas (2006)
20"x16" Sold and residing at a beach house in SC

What happens on the porch, stays on the porch! Many thanks for the memories, Jenny.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

View from Jenny's Porch 3

Here's the next stage in the painting. So much to remember when getting back onto the art path. 

Must have been thinking about vanishing points and perspective with this one. The chair and palms are blocked in, but something's missing.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

View from Jenny's Porch 2

Here's the first block-in and I started with the sky. As a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society out of the U.K., I love painting clouds. So relaxing sitting on the porch watching the clouds change shapes and drift by without a care.

We call ourselves the Piedmont Girls. We all went to Piedmont Jr. High in Charlotte, NC and have known each other since we were 12 years old. Sometimes when we get together I could swear that we are still 12 years old. Jenny graciously opens her home to us each summer.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

View from Jenny's Porch 1

Thought I'd share an early one with you. Sometimes there is an impetus that gets us back on our art journey. This was the first painting after a long hiatus. My mom made her transition in the spring of 2006 and the days seemed shorter and colder after that. Along came my friend, Jenny, with an offer to meet up with the other girls at her beach house.

Here is the sketch of the chair and porch along the beach. First I toned the canvas by putting a wash of yellow over the whole piece because I wanted to look at a warm color when painting.

The sketch is done with a soft vine charcoal after the canvas was toned.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Show(s) Must Go On

It's always exciting to be accepted into an art show, especially a themed one. This one's theme is the color blue. Blue is the color of the sky, water, and dreams. Many thanks to Tannery Row Art Colony in Buford, Georgia for accepting two of my paintings into their Bluesfest show. The show runs May 17 (gala opening) through June 21, 2014. These are my paintings that will be in the show:

There's always more to the story. Click on a painting's name to see the inspiration behind that painting.

See you at Tannery Row Artist Colony!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

If I were a ball

I've got to have music in my studio while painting. Sometimes I listen to CDs, such as Enya or jazz cat Mose Allison. Today I'm listening to classic jazz on my Slacker internet radio portable player. Love that thing and can also add my favorite .mp3s to it. 

Lately, my favorite song is Because I'm Happy by Pharrell Williams. That song will put anybody in a positive frame of mind. 

Right now I'm happy because the bling ball bouquet painting is finished and my friend loved it. Went to turn the music up to celebrate and can you believe what was playing?

If I Were a Ball by Miles Davis  There really are no coincidences, are there?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Happily ever after

Happily Ever After
12" x 12" Gallery wrapped stretched canvas
Original Oil Painting   Sold
Duluth, GA
 © 2014 Joan Terrell

I remembered that my friend had mentioned painting a room violet. She is going to accent it with purple and yellow, so that solved the background problem. Glazed Indian yellow around the edges of the ball and turned the background violet. I like it much better this way and the yellow adds a slight glow around the main subject.

Since this is a gallery wrap, it's not framed. Its gallery wrapped edges are painted beige and the back includes a beige grosgrain ribbon for hanging. My friend can have it framed, if she would like. However, I found a nice shabby chic display easel for it. (See an example of a beige edge here and ribbon on finished back here in previous posts.) 

And here's the end to our fairy tale. See the charm hanging on the pink ribbon from the ball? It says "Happily Ever After". Some paintings just name themselves. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that bling

Yesterday I issued a challenge to myself to do an oil painting of a bling bouquet a friend created for her 25th wedding anniversary. (See photo in previous post.) 

Here's how it's going (so far):

Working on a 12" x 12" gallery wrapped canvas and using soft vine charcoal, I drew the basic shape. A circle. Monet would be so jealous. 

Thought I had taken more progress shots, but it went something like this. "Holy Moley, how is this one going to come together?"  Then while listening to Enya, I calmed down and began developing darks and lights and then a few sketches of objects (yep, couldn't help seeing them as objects, rather than shapes sometimes.)

The next photo shows it a lot further along in the block in stage. 

Not sure I like the yellow, greenish gray background. Think the ball would stand out better against a darker background, but what color?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Having a ball

A friend created a bling bouquet for her 25th wedding anniversary. In addition to sparklies, she added sea shells to remind her of living in Florida (a place she loves, by the way). 

Look at all those wonderful pinks, whites, and silvers. Can't wait to get started. When painting, we're told to look at shapes and not to think about the shapes as objects. This one's going to be a real challenge!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Baby got back

 Here is the front of one of the small (6"x6"x1.5"D) bridal bouquet oil paintings I finished recently.

As promised, here is a photo of the back of one of the small bridal bouquet oil paintings I did. It can be displayed in an easel, hung by the beige grosgrain ribbon, or framed. I hope it brings back many "Golden Memories" to the collector. The back is covered with black paper so you can't see the structure of the support inside, which to me provides a classier presentation. In addition, there are two small "wall bumpers" in the lower corners so it won't mar the wall. 

 Now it's time to don a special hat I found at a garage sale and go to a Kentucky Derby party. Isn't it spectacular. It's a keeper and just in case the Queen of England requests my presence at an event, I'm ready! The run for the roses is at 6 p.m. tonight.
 See you later!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Spring trio

Bridal bouquets are beautiful, but they are usually tossed away after the wedding and then fade fast. This spring trio of 6" x 6" x 1.5"D oil paintings will help preserve that special memory.

Flowers are my hands down favorite to paint so I had fun with these three bridal bouquets. Next time, I'll choose display easels that don't have the hooky things in the front, though. These are 1.5" deep on cradled museum-quality Ampersand GessobordTM  Think I'll paint the next ones on a 3/4" deep cradle. The wooden sides (i.e., cradle) are painted beige. Here's a closer look:

If the collector wanted to frame the painting, a 3/4" deep cradle side may be a little easier to work with. Each one, though, is finished in the back and comes ready to hang, complete with a nice grosgrain ribbon, so no frame is necessary. I'll show you the backs next post.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Good place to start

My sweet husband, Larry, planted this pink dogwood tree for me about 10 years ago. We had just moved back to Georgia after living north of Dallas, TX (Allen and then Fairview). We were glad to be back in the southeast where we were both raised and dogwoods dance like ethereal waifs in the woods. Every spring we would watch this dogwood with anticipation, but no blooms. We were about to give up on it when this spring it surprised us. Its branches are loaded with delicate pink four-petaled blossoms. Sort of reminds me of my art journey. About 10 years ago, I got back on my true path. Oh, I had drawn and painted some time ago, but as they say, "then life happened." So in 2004, I signed up for a two year distance learning art class and I'm so glad I did. So here I am, 10 years and many paintings and art workshops later and blooming anew.

This is my first blog entry. As they say, "you can only start from where you are."