Bird & Sunrise photo

Bird & Sunrise photo
Because "someday" is today!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall

I had a great half-marathon in August, and then everything seems to have "gone off the wall" since then. First, work slowed down to a quarter of what it had been all year. Of course, I had to have a root canal in October, very expensive. Then my Mom had two strokes in November. I was lucky to be able to spend three weeks with her since I didn't have any work. While driving the 700 miles back from my parents, my transmission decides to start slipping, also very expensive. Then to top it all, another tooth filling decides to fail resulting in, you guessed it, a crown. Unbelievable.

There is some promise of work in January and February, but with warnings that things may be a bit slower. All this has made me really look at being more in control of my own work. I need to set more definite goals with deadlines for completion. I am considering seriously putting my work on E-bay. That will require that I produce more work. I have been trying out the tiny 2.5" x 3.5" artist trading card format. I like that I can complete a painting in an afternoon instead of days. I think my images are just as good if not better than some that are selling.

I am posting my first three super tiny paintings, which are canvas on tiny wood frames. I would love your feed back, dear readers, if you are still out there. I think I should get $30.00 each, what do you think?

Jeff's Corner: When life hands you lemons, throw them at someone!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Late Bloomers

Small Music Box Sunflower, only three feet tall.
Small and beautiful.

I planted my sunflowers later than I wanted to this year. Actually, I have never planted them up here before, but I wanted to see how they would do, even if they got a late start. They did come up, and after learning that I had to protect the seedlings from the birds, who ate about five of them, I managed to get nine plants growing.

As summer has ended, three of them are blooming and I keep warning the others that the frost is coming soon. The classic tall "Silver Stripe" are the ones that are not open yet, even though their bloom heads are formed. The smallest, "Music Box", which is only about 16 inches tall has three blooms on one stock, is already open and so pretty.

Sunflower, late bloomer.
I feel like I have been a "late bloomer" my whole life, and I hope that my efforts to keep progressing with my painting will yield some beautiful results, even if my progress towards a career is pretty slow right now.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Shades of Grey

I am enticed by all the flower catalogs that come in the mail and I do my best to resist buying anything. I know all to well that not many plants will survive the weather or the animals here on the mountainside. But last fall, I couldn't resist the "Reblooming Irises" offered by Brecks. I was anxious all spring to see what flowers would appear. So far, only two of the six plants have bloomed. The earliest was completely white and so pretty. I have to admit, I was hoping for something with more color, since painting white flowers is still intimidating to me. Anything "white" is basically every color but white because of the light reflections and shadows. I took a lot of photos, hoping to get something I felt inspired to paint.

I hesitated over the challenge, but decided to dig in. I experimented with mixing ivory black, yellow ochre and white to get a nice warm grey, as suggested by Helen Van Wyk. This looked pretty good, but when I added some alizarin crimson to get cool shadows, it just seemed a bit pink. The principle is to add cool violets to yellows to get nice shadows. My next attempt I tried dioxazine purple instead of the alizarin crimson and that seemed better. Although, when I was near completion I had the feeling that it just looked too purple and basically awful. Jeff confirmed the too much purple part, so I took heart and added back some more yellow ochre and burnt sienna, which is in the yellow family.

This is the odd thing about painting. Often, it will look like such a failure because it doesn't match what I had in mind. Sometimes if I will just take a break and come back with the idea of judging what is there, not what I think should be there, the painting will magically transform from a complete mess in my mind to something that is not that bad. I definitely had that happen this time and only within a few minutes. I was disappointed because I thought it was so ugly I wasn't going to be able to put it on the blog. When I decided to just judge at it as itself, it suddenly looked much better. It does look different than I imagined, but I will leave it up to you to judge!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Alla Prima

In the spirit of trying different painting techniques, I wanted to try "alla prima" which is an Italian phrase that means "at the outset" or as we would say, "all at once". No underpainting, no preliminary drawing, just putting down the "shapes, tones and colors in one opaque application", as Helen Van Wyk describes it.

I had tried this before with oil paints and ended up with a mess. This time, I chose a subject I have painted before, a pink columbine and I followed Helen's directions exactly. First, prime the canvas gray so it is better to judge the color on. Sketch the placement of the image using paint. Put in the main body tones of the subject. (Not the extreme lights or darks.) Know where you light is coming from and paint the background from light to dark accordingly. Surprisingly, the dark side is where the light is coming from. Add light tones. Know where your focal point is and don't detract from it with extra fussy details elsewhere in the painting. Add dark tones and then the final highlights. Be sure you have layered and overlapped your shapes so that things in the foreground look like they belong there. Piece of cake...

Five hours later I had a pretty good little painting. I was hoping for two hours since my canvas was only 4" x 5", but size doesn't seem to matter when you are learning.

I will now share the amazing answer of what happens when you mix Alizarin Crimson and Viridian Green. I was sure I would get some weird brown, but it was the loveliest shade of purple gray. The color mixing principle I was using was to get the shadow tone of a pink flower by adding it's color complement, green. You can see this color on the pink petals of the columbine. I love learning new things that surprise me and I think I will try this style of painting again.

Jeff's Corner: What? Size doesn't matter??!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Trying A Different Path

We have had a very wet and cold spring here at 8,500 ft. Amidst the gray and sometimes snowy days, the brave daffodils showed their pretty faces and I felt the definite itch to paint them. I decided to try a different approach and try to capture the concept of their boldness to bloom in such bad weather without my usual careful drawing and reference photos.

I chose an 8 x 10 canvas and decided to use acrylic paints because I wanted the quick drying time, so I could change the painting more easily as I painted. I struggled with getting the look of seeing the flowers through a wet window and in getting the sense of form to the flowers.

After some thought, I felt I needed a refresher course in basic value study. I found my copy of Helen Van Wyck's book on painting flowers and and went to work on a tiny 2 and 1/2 x 3 inch canvas to study on. She is so good at explaining body tone, body shadow, cast shadow, reflected light and highlights. I had forgotten her great color mixing ideas. Mainly adding the complement to get lively shadows and highlights. A little Alizarin Crimson added to the Cadmium Yellow made my dull shadows look so much more alive.

Feeling more confident, I decided to try another tiny canvas with oils. I didn't do a refined drawing, but I did get a bit stuck and had to get one of my photos out to get the placement of the shadows right. Even Helen was painting from actual flower arrangements, so it is good to have reference. I just want to learn how to not need it so much, and that will just have to take practice.

Does anyone have any guesses what fabulous color you get when you combine Alizarin Crimson with Viridian Green? I will share the amazing answer with you in the next Blog post!

Jeff Corner: My guess is Alizaridian!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


When we were visiting the church of St. Nicholas in Demre, I thought some of the decorative work in the stone and frescoes reminded me of Celtic designs. I had learned about the famous Book of Kells when I studied art history in college. The intricate Celtic knotwork combined with Christian iconography was very memorable to me. I had even tried my hand at creating some of my own Celtic designs a few years ago. I didn't expect to see artwork that reminded me of that style in Turkey.
Image from the Book of Kells

Stylized celtic inspired dragon in pink and blue, © 2005 Tina M Welter
Ink on paper, © Tina M Welter 2005  
Details from the Book of Kells
I chose these to show the design elements simplified.
I haven't discovered the exact connection, but I did read that the tradition of ornamenting books was something that passed down from Egyptians, to Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and then of course Constantine, who made Christianity legal in 325 A.D. in Turkey. By the early fifth century, the religion had spread to Ireland. The Book of Kells was decorated by Columban monks sometime in the late eighth or ninth century. They may have been located in Iona, a small island in the inner Hebrides, off the western coast of Scotland. This island was known as a center for Celtic Christianity.
Stone spiral, from the Church of St. Nicholas, Demre, Turkey
Church of St. Nicholas, Demre

Carved stone knot work, from Church of St. Nicholas, Demre, Turkey
Church of St. Nicholas, Demre

Floor mosaic "knot", from the Church of St. Nicholas, Demre, Turkey
Church of St. Nicholas, Demre

Stone "knot" from Church of St. Nicholas, Demre, Turkey
Church of St. Nicholas, Demre

I don't know if the decorative work I saw in Turkey had any connection to the later work by the Celtic monks, but they certainly took the style to a new and extremely elegant art form.

Jeff's Corner: St. Nicholas knows if you've been "knotty" or nice!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

It's All In The Details

Sometimes I just felt I couldn't take in the whole effect of some of the ancient city ruins we went to. When I realized this, I set a new goal for myself, namely "focus on the details". I wasn't sure how this would play out, but eventually I began to recognize patterns and could get very excited when I found something new.

The cities that had a lot of Roman and Greek influence: Ephesus, Hierapolis, Pergamon and Patara had similiar column styles, square details from the ceilings, the human figure carved in a certain way. I photographed any detail that caught my eye.
Colonnade to Asklepion, Pergamon Turkey
I found the carving detail along this "sacred way".

Asklepion columns, Pergamon, Turkey
Entrance to the library.

Asklepion carving, Pergamon, Turkey
detail from an arch.

One morning when we were seeing Asklepion, the ancient medical center, which is just outside Pergamon, I saw a pattern I hadn't noticed before. I got a photo and moved on. Later that day, we were at the "Red Basilica", which didn't look like much at first since the marble covering was long gone and only the red brick core still stands. There were mostly only marble pieces left, but as I was looking, I realized some of these "details" looked very Egyptian, and the detail on the dress of one of the figures was the same as the detail I had seen earlier at Asklepion! What was going on?
The Red Basilica, Pergamon, Turkey
Marble fragments in the foreground.

Egyptian goddess Sekhmet, dress carved in marble, Red Basilica- Pergamon, Turkey
lower half, back view of her dress.

Egyptian goddess Sekhmet, top half of dress, carved in marble. Red Basilica-Pergamon, Turkey
Top half, with dress bodice.

Egyptian style sculpture. Goddess Sekhmet. Detail carved on dress in marble. Red Basilica-Pergamon, Turkey
detail on the dress

We found a plaque that explained that the name "Red Basilica" was a bit misleading. It had originally been built as a second century AD temple to the trinity of Egyptian gods: Serapis, Harpokrates, and Isis. It had been converted into a basilica by the Byzantines. It was one of the seven churches addressed by St. John in the Book of Revelation. He referred to it as home of the "throne of the devil", perhaps he was referring to the Egyptian cult that still had it's followers! We had no idea. I was thrilled to see a little piece of design that had found it's way through time. Does anyone else see how this design has surfaced in our day? Maybe it is just me... tell me what you see.

Jeff's corner: Jeff is headed for New York, but if he has any comments I will post them.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Chimera Are Real!

Did anyone else read the "Wind in The Door" by Madeleine L'Engle? The Chimera were fantastic beasts, but I always wanted to see one...

Hittite Chimera
Hittite Chimera
We spent the last week on the warm south coast with the orange and lemon trees. The apartment we rented in Kas was lovely and had a great view of the Mediterranean Sea. It was a small town and it helped to be out of the hustle of the big city.

Kas, Turkey
Kas, Turkey
From there we could make day trips to Myra (Demre), which is where St. Nicholas was Bishop and Patara, the Roman city where he was born.


St. Nicholas, Bishop of Demre
St. Nicholas
 We climbed up to a Byzantine castle located on a mountain top and admired the strategic view. And we sunned ourselves on Kaputas beach. Jeff was brave enough to get in the coolish water on the spring equinox!

Castle at Dereagzi
Strategic view from Byzantine Castle at Dereagzi.

Kaputas Beach
Kaputas Beach
 The most surprising day was taking a tram to the top of Mt. Olympos or Tehtali Dag, depending on if you are Greek or Turkish and saw the snow.

Mount Olimpos or Tehtali
View from Mount Olimpos or Tehtali
 After the tram ride, we drove down to sea level again and went looking for Chimera. The ancient sailors thought it was the fiery beast trapped under the mountain. We had a nice trail to hike, but steep, and as we came out of the forest, there were the flames coming from the ground!

Chimera at Olimpos
Chimera at Olimpos
Of course there is the sensible explanation of methane gas finding it's way to the surface. I prefer the "eternal flame" that the Greeks here used to light their torch for the Anatolian Olympic games, and the best of all, the Chimera.

Jeff's Corner: I wanted to see an R.O.U.S. !

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Driving Like Crazy in Turkey

Hello from Izmir! Finally, a computer where there is not a fee to use it. We are staying at the Hilton, which is lovely and helps the culture shock, but it is in the heart of downtown and driving here is rather difficult.

We flew into Istanbul six hours later than planned because we missed our flight in France, because they had to bus us to the other side of the terminal to get to our flight. It would have been much nicer to have walked on the connecting walkway that was indicated on the map. Apparently, it is no longer in use.
Medusa Head.  Roman cistern underground. Istanbul, Turkey
Medusa Head.  Roman cistern, underground- Istanbul, Turkey
Arriving in Istanbul at eleven p.m. was probably better than at the five p.m. rush, but after taking an hour to rent our car, we were driving around pretty tired and not understanding a thing about the road signage system....if there IS one. It took us two and a half hours before we finally found our Hilton at three thirty a.m. Nerves were a bit frayed. Instead of sight seeing the next day as planned, we slept all day. We chose to stay at Hilton because Jeff had all kinds of free points to use, but it is definitely not our style to deal with the big cities, even when we are home.
Madonna and Child, Ayasophia church- Istanbul, Turkey
Madonna and Child, mosaic.  Ayasophia church

Central Dome.  Ayasophia church, Istanbul Turkey
Central Dome. 

Beautiful Mosaic.
Beautiful Mosaic made with real gold leaf.
We took a taxi to go see the Ayasophia in town the next day. A beautiful church that had been the largest enclosed architectural space in it's day; before St. Peters in Rome was built. The mosaics of the Madonna and Child, and Christ were so delicate, I thought they were paintings. We walked around the Blue Mosque, but didn't make it inside because the long afternoon prayers were in session and we needed to get back to check out of the hotel. Quite powerful to be there with the call to prayer and the faithful going inside to worship.
Ayasophia church
Ayasophia church balcony

I will try to add pictures next time. We saw Gallipoli and Troy yesterday and Ephesus today, believe me, I have pictures!
The entrance to Troy ll city.
The entrance to Troy ll city.

Columns at Ephesus.
Columns at Ephesus.

The library at Ephesus.
The library at Ephesus.

Jeff's Corner: I will never complain about driving in New York again!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Let's Talk Turkey...

We will be traveling in the western half of the country.
We will traveling in the western half of the country.
I can't believe tomorrow, Tuesday March 9th is already here. We fly to Istanbul, Turkey tomorrow for a three week vacation, i.e. see as many historic sites and try as many interesting new foods as possible.

We have been watching Rick Steves "Travels in Europe" for years and I set a goal to only take two carry-on bags. Rick has helpful packing lists on his web site, so I am putting them to use. I am hopeful, but I still haven't quite perfected it yet.

This trip, we decided to just take sketch journals instead of the whole painting studio in a bag like we did in Greece. That will definitely help in the "one less bag to worry about" category. I hope to be able to post some updates in the blog during the trip. We won't be staying in one place this time, so I will have to look for places to get on the web.

Don't worry, the earthquake this morning was not in an area we are traveling to. Until later...

Jeff's Corner: I can't get to the pistachio baklava fast enough!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Third Time IS the Charm!

After some introspection, I set a goal for this new year that is easy to remember and that I thought I truly needed. This is it: "Less Stress; Generate Joy". I don't usually do the whole "goal" thing because I usually end up so frustrated since I set such unrealistic expectations for myself. But in the interest of following the advice of Eric Maisel in "Coaching the Artist Within", I needed to set a "purpose" for my creative life.

The deadline for the Millicent Rogers Museum show was a month earlier this year. This is my third year to enter, and I had been working on an idea, but with all the craziness around Christmas I wasn't able to finish the painting I had in mind. Instead, I remembered my goal and asked myself what I could reasonably accomplish in the time I had. So I ordered a frame for the the acrylic painting of "Oh My, Look What the Human Dragged In" and submitted that piece on time.

The opening for the show was this last Saturday, Feb 20th. After finding where my painting was hanging in the show, we made another round in the gallery to choose our favorites to vote for the "people's choice" awards. When we made it back to my painting to give it one last look before going home, Jeff noticed that it had sold! This was particularly sweet since there were some big name local artist's who hadn't sold their pieces yet. I felt particularly rewarded for choosing to have "less stress" and boy, did that sale generate some joy!

Jeff Corner: Now I'll never NOT be able to take pictures of cats...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Take A Whack At It..."

"You can't hit a home run unless you step up to the plate." This was the advice from the card from the "Whack Pack" which I drew a few weeks ago when I was dithering about how to proceed on an idea for a painting I wanted to do. I was hoping to finish this new painting of a small disdainful Muffy cat in time for the Millicent Roger Museum's annual miniature show.

As usual, I was trying to know the end from the beginning and forgetting that often the answer comes while you are working on the painting. I came up with the idea of collaging a fictional news story behind Muffy, explaining why she looked so disgusted. I liked the idea, but I wasn't sure how to get the typewritten piece to put behind her and I worried that it might be too distracting from the main painting.

That advice was just what I needed to get moving instead of thinking. I wrote my story on the computer and then copied it onto a sheet of tracing paper. I ordered the picture frame I thought might work on line. I made several scale copies of Muffy's photo so I could see what size image would work best on a tiny 5"x 4" canvas. Finally, I got to the painting.

I made the right decision by doing a black and white underpainting of Muffy before I added the "news article" type. That helped so I could see the image as I added other layers of collage. I should have tested the tracing paper for buckling. It did get a bit bumpy when I put the collaging gel on it, but I decided to keep it anyway. While I was working, I remembered I had a piece of sheer green collaging paper that was just the color of Muffy's eyes. I added it over the whole image, hoping it would still go with the picture frame I had picked out. I had a moment when I thought I had ruined the whole thing, but I kept painting and I am very pleased with the result. It is different than I imagined, but I think it is better. Leaving room for the unexpected is a good idea.

Jeff's Corner: Paint first, ask questions later!