Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Carnegie Art Center Members Show

I rejoined the Carnegie Art Center this summer as a member.  Personally I wish I would get a reminder to rejoin,  details like renewal of memberships always get lost in the clutter of my life. Just ask my friends how many times I have to be reminded about our next outing.

Any way.........I rejoined so that I could be part of the current member show going on at the art center. A cheesy way to get my paintings out there so people can see them and admire my wonderful work. (this is me being a bit sarcastic) No juries to tell us what they like. The show is up all month and the Carnegie has hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Hope you can find time to stop by to see all the work. Here are the two I decided to show. I am glad I could just put them out there. Have a feeling neither would pass a judge. (sarcasm..again)

"Lisa on the Beach" (oil on canvas) on one of those hot days this summer that required that you spend it near water. I wanted to give that feeling of hot humid air. I hope Lisa had her feet in the water to keep her cool.

This is a semi-abstract that I did this past spring. It is watercolor on paper that I then mounted on a gallery wrapped canvas. It really is a change in my work and needs to be seen in person to get the full effect of the close values of the painting. Called this one "Intersections"

I am working on new projects at my studio and trying to find a theme for my next show a year from now.  I need to work toward another theme besides flowers and landscapes or try to make those themes newer and  more interesting. I am feeling frustrated....................and reading about creativity.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Playing with Glass

Like running with scissors, playing with glass can be dangerous. Not so much that I get cut, but in the fact that I get carried away with a new little passion. I have always liked garden junk as long as it is tasteful and as long as I do not get carried away with it to the point that you cannot see the flowers for the junk.
The other day my friend recommended my garden for a garden tour next summer. So I got to making lists of things that needed to be done in the garden to make it interesting to any visitors who come. Move this here, take this out entirely, find a new plant for more interest here and there...and make some new garden art! Yea! Let's go shopping in one of my favorite places, second hand stores.
My newest project is making garden flowers and totems out of glass and ceramic. They are really addicting and fun to work with. As I walked down the aisles of the thrift store and started picking up this vase and that bowl, I quickly realized that I needed a cart to carry all my treasures.
Here are some pics of finished projects. More than I can use so I will sell some at a craft show this fall.
I made these in one afternoon of playing with all the pieces I found at the thrift stores.

A sample of what they look like from the side. This one is nice and delicate, tiny little pink flowers and crystal like glass glued together with silicone glue that holds up really well out side in all weather even though a Minnesota winter. The next step is to attach a hook on the back that is made by flattening a spoon with a sledge hammer, bending the handle into a hook and then attaching it with a really good automotive glue. The hook then slides into a pvc pipe that is pounded into the ground. The flowers hover over garden plants and add sparkle to the garden, especially after the flowers are are through blooming.

The black plate behind this one really shows off the pattern in the glass plate. A candle votive light is the center and a glass gem tops the flower off.

This one is my favorite. The dark blue plate sets off the ruffled glass plate, a candle holder looks like the center of the flower and then a small gem to pull the blue forward.

This is a tower or totem that is built step by step gluing two pieces together letting them dry and then building up until you put the finishing touch -- a little glass bunny topper. Building all of these is a matter of trying something and then changing your mind--but not after they are glued! This tower is held in place by a piece of pcv pipe that is pushed into the dirt in the impatient's planter.

This is one of the flower plates that really came together, lavender plate, little violets painted on a china saucer and a pretty glass candle holder that looks so flower like from this angle. Fun Fun Fun. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hubbard House Gardens

This painting is one of the Hubbard House gardens here in Mankato. I did this one before we left for the Salt Flats. The gardens are at their peak right now. I had painted the carriage house previously and wanted to do something that did not require technical drawing. So picked the garden where artistic license is not as obvious as it is when you paint a crooked building. 

Gerry was painting on the other side of the garden in the sun.  I chose a nice shady place to stand to paint. I just had to move sideways when sun spots would land on my painting making it hard to see colors. That day I got the painting blocked in nd went back the next to finish the painting. Instead of my usual brush work, I decided to finish this one with a pallet knife. The painting has lots of texture and was lots of fun to use the knife to finish the painting. I think it stayed fresher and the knife marks really gave life to all the foliage.

Now that I am back from vacation, I need to keep on making plein airs so that I will have a good variety  for our show in January at the Blue Earth County Historical Center. Gerry and I will have a two person show of our plein airs in Blue Earth County. 

Sketches from Salt Flats

For all my intentions, I did not paint on the salt flats this year. The water on the flats made the salt so sticky that it was thrown all over us as we drove to the staging area. The roads were quite full of pot holes making the drive out really uncomfortable. My pochade box would have been shaken to pieces and any painting I did would have had a salt crust on it. So next year maybe. I did manage a few sketches of the mountains surrounding the salt flats. The first with the label Pilot Peak is mislabled. Pilot Peak is beyond this mountain. For a flat lander like me these were plenty tall. The salt goes right up to the mountains. White and then purple or brown depending on the time of day.

The flag in the foreground was there to mark the road for the racers as they returned to the staging area. Tiny little cars show the distance. The area the races use is about 5 miles wide by 10 miles long. The cars look like little bugs all over the white salt.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thunder over the Salt Flats

Evening light just before the storms rolled through the Wendover, Utah area. There was quite a lightening show.  You can see "Wendover Will" a sign welcoming visitors to the city on the lower right. He is lit with neon and is about 30 feet tall. Wendover is filled with casinos and lots of neon. He is the best of all.
The rain came down in buckets. Now I understand all the gullies we see in the area. There isn't much vegetation to hold the soil so these rain storms just make them deeper and wider.

This photo shows the small lake that developed after the storm.

Dan and I spent a week on the Great Salt Lake Salt Flats in Utah. We were there for speed week and to watch our friends break records for speed on the flats. Usually the salt flats are dry dry dry but this year we had a few thunder storms that flooded the entrance to the race course. You can see the small lake that accumulated just where the asphalt road ends and the salt flats begin. It is hard to see here but the water was up to the axels on trucks and low cars had water almost to their floor pans. We didn't want to drive through the salt water with our roadster so we sat back and watched and soon hooked a ride with a German tourist who was driving a rented SUV. He was glad to take us out and we were glad to have the ride.

Because of the rain the track and the roads were quite rutted and full of pot holes. I had thought that I would do some paintings out there. Easy to do--white blue and purple ;-)-- but because of the ruts etc. I decided that my gear in the back of the roadster would get a through shaking up on the way out to the track. It is a mile from the end of the road to the staging area and two more miles to the pits. A long rough ride with salt being thrown up on us all the way. I did manage to make a sketch of the mountains to the west of the race track. As soon as Dan brings back my chip from my camera, I will post a photo of the sketch and the mountains them selves. I will just have to do a painting from a photo this time. Maybe next year I will have time to paint.

Instead of painting I took quite a few photos that I will use for inspiration for paintings for my show next fall. I have been thinking on what my theme should be for the show. It is hard to narrow a theme down when there are so many ideas swirling around in my head. I think that I will start a small note book to keep ideas in so that hopefully things will come into focus.

I took a couple of paintings out to our friend who had asked me to make a painting of his favorite old time hard ware store. He bought both of them. I did one water color and one oil painting. We framed them and packed them up really well and hoped that he would like at least one of them. First sales of the year. I don't rely on sales to support my habits but it is a nice verification of my work.

Booker Hardware Store, Mississippi

This is the water color and is a half sheet. I chose to emphasize the windows of the old store and the flags that fly out front.

This is the oil painting of the whole front of the building. I was not sure which view George would want.  At first, I was not really pleased with the water color and decided to do the full front of the store in oil. What a challenge to get all the windows and lines of the building right. As always these look much better in person. 

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Plein Air Artist Margie Larson featured in the August Mankato Magazine

My brother scanned the article about me that was published in the Mankato Magazine. The magazine likes to  to showcase local artists and their work. Mankato has lots of talented people living in the area.

My fifteen minutes of fame. ;-D

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mankato Magazine Article

I was interviewed for an article in the local magazine a couple of months ago. The magazine likes to have articles about local artists. I was lucky enough to be chosen from a long list of artists in the area.  I concentrated on talking about plein air painting and that I am working toward a show at the Blue Earth County Historical Society in January. My friend Gerry and I proposed a show of local scenes painted plein air. We are working on paintings for that show this summer. I can't use their photos but this is the painting I was working on when I was interviewed. We were painting at Indian Lake....before the mosquitoes made working out doors so much fun.

The grasses were tall and swaying in the wind. It was fun catching them and now remembering the great day it was out there. Hope you can see the article in the August Mankato Magazine. Available at Cubs and HyVee and with your newspaper.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Started as Plein Air--finished in studio

I have a thing about water and falls. I like the changeability of water in it's many moods and settings. So I went to Minneopa Falls again a couple of weeks ago. With my grandson and niece. They went hiking and I set up to paint. In no time they were back and ready to be creative too. Hafsa, my niece, found a dangerous place on the wrong side of the fence to paint the falls. That is a drop off right at her feet to the bottom of the fall's gorge. My set up in the back ground.

Grandson, Avery, decided to do a life drawing of his grandpa. Here he is working hard to get the likeness just right.

 Grandpa was happy to pose for a while. I think he took a nap.

I started this painting of the falls on site but was using my new alkyd paints that dry very quickly .... too quickly for a hot day. I was getting quite frustrated and decided to bring it home blocked in. I took it to the studio today to finish it in between working on my commission. Using the alkyds in the studio worked much better. In the sun and heat the day I was at the water falls, the paints dried quickly and they were like working with glue. In studio they work just fine. You can still tell that they dry faster. I think I kept it fresh and not too over done. That is the problem with bringing a painting home to finish from a photo. I have the photo but did not use it except to check the bridge. And to keep the falls looking right. This has been a banner year for the falls. We have had lots of snow and rain this year and the falls have been full all summer long. Some years there is hardly any water falling.

The photo is a bit bluer than real life. Used ultramarine blue to make the grays and my camera always emphasizes  the blue in photos. Just think gray where there are blue shadows.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New Plein Air paintings

Been trying to work on plein airs. Life gets in the way though. We had lots of company last week, grand kids and niece. Then we went camping up north for a hot weekend of biking on new trials at Cayuna State Park. Lots of fun and lots of sweating in the hot humid summer weather.

Here are some plein airs that I completed before the weather turned on us.

On the River, garden at a friend's house on the Blue Earth River. As always oil on board, 11x14

This is the Blue Earth river from a campground. We were in shade and managed to keep the bugs away. Later I added a little kayak to the sweet spot to give the painting a bit of interest. (not shown)  The Blue Earth River is in a bit of a gorge and has lots of water falls along the way. Most of which are not accessible except by the river. My painting buddy, Gerry and I, would really like to get to some of the waterfalls for paintings......someday.

Worked at a local park called Indian Lake. Breezy day.

Indian Lake again, looking the other way. It was a beautiful day.
With luck the weather will change and we will be able to get out again. Heat and humidity are not conductive to good paintings. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thinking about compostion

After talking to a painter friend, I decided to look more closely at the last painting I showed here. Lisa--Glowing.  My friend asked me what I really wanted to show in the painting, was it the sky, the sun shine on the water, the waves under the bench--is the figure the center of attention or all the background around her.  Upon reflection, the figure and the light around her is really what I wanted to capture. I cropped the painting  using software so I can evaluate what was going on with the composition of the  painting.

First the original painting--what do I want to be the center of interest--Lisa of course--what is taking away that attention?

First I cropped conservatively, taking out some sky, water beneath her feet and the sun streak to her left side. 
It is feeling better. Next----

I cropped the painting even more. Concentrating only on the figure not the background. Now it is looking better. The figure is the center of interest. The background around her tells a little story about where she is but does not detract from her. Now that I am looking at the painting with a critical eye, I see that the background around her shoulders is too bright and needs to recede more. the orange and pink no longer are relevant and come forward too much.
 I made this painting using a photo and unconsciously used the composition that the photographer got using his camera. Cameras record everything the lens sees. Artists are discriminating and can use only what makes the painting stronger.

Thanks to my friend, E. for his help in evaluating the painting.

Painting in the Studio

Ever since we got rained out on Saturday, it has rained and been gloomy every day.  Here it is June 21st,  the longest day of the year and we have grey skies, no sun to enjoy and so much rain the ditches are running full.

So what does one do? One goes to the studio that we pay rent for and camp out there. I can't complain too much because I had fun with this painting. It is so different from my landscapes and flowers. I have never done a figure or a face with oil. I totally enjoyed the last three afternoons.  I think I am finished with this one but will look at it for a while and decide if it needs touch up any where.

Here she is "Lisa--Glowing" My son took a cell phone photo of Lisa, his wife, one night when they were playing on the Mississippi near their home. I interpreted the photo in this painting. Loved doing it and plan on more figure paintings in the future. The back lighting was a fun to work with. I wanted the light to look like an aura around Lisa. I left her face until last, worried about doing a face in oil paint. Or a face in any medium at all! Her features are recognizable but not necessarily as our Lisa.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Paint Out--Rained Out!

Gerry and I sponsored a paint out on Saturday. We decided that down town Mankato has lots of interesting buildings and pocket parks so we volunteered a site near the Emy Frentz Guild. We have the Cray Mansion, The Hubbard House with it's gardens and many other interesting buildings in the area. And the building near by for breaks and a quick snack before starting the day.

We set up early. Mark and Laura from Morristown and Faribault arrived right on time. Pat from St. James came, too. She heard about the paint out when we were at the Arts by the River. Good to have her here. Then Joan came and so we had 6 of us on a day that was supposed to be dry and partly sunny. HA! Look at these photos.

Another good reason to have a plein air umbrella. Gerry struggling to close up her easel in a down pour 
AND keep a hand on her umbrella. 

Laura running to shelter in the Emy Frentz building. We all got soaked!

The morning went well, even though the promised sun did not show. We had taken a break for lunch in the gallery leaving our easels where we had set up. Gerry decided to go out to finish her painting but quickly came back to say it was starting to rain--better get our stuff! Just then the sky opened like a zipper and the rain came down in buckets full. We all ran out to pick up our stuff. What a blast we were laughing and running, making more than one trip and getting wetter and wetter. The water was running in the streets ankle deep. Joan was trying to take shelter in the gazebo in the garden but the roof was not solid. She was wetter than any of us. Her water colors are now wet into wet.

Thank Goodness, we had the gallery to shelter in. We dried off, had a cup of coffee to warm up and then broke up early for the day. We did have fun and have some funny memories of this paint out. But no finished paintings. We will definitely do this again---on a sunny day.

Friday, June 17, 2011

One of those totally beautiful days

Our weather has been pretty iffy this spring. On again and off again hot cold rainy, windy, yuck. But Yesterday was a day in paradise. Warm sun, slight breeze, bird song and sound of rushing water in the back ground. Sorry E. much better day than you had. We set up at a friends home on the Blue Earth River. I tried a long view of the river with a boat on the water. It just wasn't making it. Wiped it off and started over with a more intimate scene of our friends garden.
Peonies are in full bloom right now. I am not happy with the water of the river in the back ground. It is that strange cocoa with green reflections. The river is high with run off from a storm of 3 inches. And it was hard to keep it looking consistent with the trees in the way.


I deliberately left the lower corner undone. there were more rocks lining the garden and I felt that more would be redundant. There was also a small tree in the back ground that I painted out after I came home it just confused the composition. I am much happier with it now. Came close to wiping it out too. I am going to blame the full moon messing with me.

Sorry for the poor photo. This is way bluer on my screen than in real life. There is more life in the dark background than shows too. Cameras and computer screens just do not do paintings any favors.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Art Fair Weekend

All those frames we were making were for the first annual Arts By the River. Art and music and food in the new Riverfront Park in Mankato.  We framed 14 plein air paintings. Here they are all lined up and ready to be packed up for the show.

And here they are at the show set up and ready to find new homes. I brought them all back to my studio. Maybe next time.  I shared the table with my painting buddy, Gerry. She didn't sell either but did make some contacts for commissions.

It was very nice on Saturday and had lots of people who attended the show. We did see some people buying art. There were lots of lookers just no buyers at our table. Sunday was another matter, cold, windy and spitting rain all afternoon long. Guess when it cleared and got nice--just before we were ready to pack up for the weekend.  Sighhhh............

Thursday, June 9, 2011

How many blogs begin with "It has been a while"? Well, here we go again. I know that I have been busy and working hard and now have gotten outside to paint plein air but where the time went since March I cannot recall at all. Just lots of stuff happening.

I am in a small art fair in Mankato at the new River Front Park this coming weekend and needed to make my little plein airs look good....well, maybe better. Buying frames for all my paintings was going to be way too expensive so my in-house handy man has been building frames for me the last two days. He has both the talent and good tools to make framing look easy. I remember back in my school days trying to make frames using a simple miter box with a flat saw. Really ugly frames were the result.

Our local Menards (hardware box store) carries oak trim for the frames. I wanted to have a floating shadow box style frame for the paintings. We bought corner braces that really work well (2 for $8) at the same store. They work with a spring and slide right into the corners correcting alignment as they settle into the corners. Dan really likes the way they work.

A while ago, Larry Sieler on Wet Canvas, Plein Air forum, showed us the strap brace that he used to make his frames. We found a similar one at Menards for $24. Both braces work a bit differently but having both sty

Two Frames Drying at the same time. 
Fourteen Frames made and finished and paintings mounted in two days.

Here are all the frames hung in a line, painted with Krylon spray paint (satin black) or stained. We like the stained frames for the spring plein airs which are lighter in value than the ones that will go in the black frames. Most of the frames are 8x10. We could get two frames out of one length of trim board. We figure the 8x10 frames cost about $4 without labor. Not bad since these frames turned out really professional looking.

Here is a view of how the paintings float in the frames. Now all we have to do is sell a few at the art fair this weekend. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Birthday Post--More paintings from workshop

My most favorite vacation and gift is a great workshop week with a favorite artist. So even though my bday is today, I received my gift two weeks ago at Spring Maid Beach and the workshop with Skip Lawrence. So today, you get the present of another posting of the continuing  results of my workshop.

Early in the workshop I decided to paint in an abstract manner. Not in imitation of Skip's style, which is totally his own developed over many years of experience but in my own style of painting developed over only a very short career of painting. I love texture and added tissue to the paper with gel medium before I started the painting. Another layer of texture was added with watercolor crayons after the painting was dried . Some of the darker passages were too dark. Skip suggested adding scribbles of color over the top of the too dark color to bring  light into the dark hole behind the tree shape. I found that I really like using the crayons and have them on my wish list at Cheap Joe's. Waiting for a good sale. They are not cheap. ;-)

This is a close up showing the texture in the tree and leaves in front of the tree.


This final painting of the week turned out to be totally different from everything I had done during the previous days. I wanted to try Skip's technique of painting with watercolor paints without adding much water at all. Not much texture. I used a photo from my Ireland trip for inspiration. It turned out to be  one of those tricky paintings that you can look at in two ways like the face and vase drawings. Some people see this as an interior of a room. It never occurred to me to look at it that way. I  painted it seeing  a group of out buildings on a farm in Ireland. I have to blink and change my perception to see it as an interior.

It is watercolor on paper, 14x14. I will mount it on a deep sided canvas to make it appear more substantial. Unfortunately the photo does not do the painting justice. There is a subtly that shows in person and makes the painting more interesting.

Thanks for reading again. Now it is time to get to work down in the studio.
Hugs, for today.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Skip Lawrence Workshop: Evaluation? Great!

The Happy Crowd -- Skip Lawrence's Painting Class, Spring Maid Beach March 2011

Dan and I returned from our trip to Spring Maid Beach and my workshop with Skip Lawrence last Wednesday. What a great week. It was full of painting and learning and lots of laughter. The workshop was not a "how to" but more of  a "why paint" and "then get to painting" workshop. The workshop did not have a regular description printed or posted anywhere and this disturbed some of the participants. We all like predictability and this workshop turned out to be unpredictable.

When asked what we would be doing in the workshop, Skip said "This is a PAINTING WORKSHOP." We will work on finding our own voice. Yikes! I said, I have nothing interesting to say. I am such a mellow person, no drama in me! How can I find something interesting to say? While I am still working on the interesting bit but I did have fun painting the way I wanted to and did not have to learn another artist's technique or tricks of the trade. Read Skip's last blog entry  and you will get a good idea of what he told us through the week. There was lots of good advice from Skip for each of the participants every day and lots of laughter too.

Skip and Margie at the final show on Friday night.

As Skip writes, "Proceed from a place of no fear.  Take every chance, listen to your intuitive voice, prepare for marvelous disasters, and do not evaluate success with the same old rules"

My first painting of the week. Inspired by the sunrise we saw from our balcony. Painted from my place of no fear. What a great way to start a wonderful week.

So I did as Skip suggested and worked through the week in totally new ways. My week was not without trials and errors but I think I had some success by the end of the week. As I walked around the room of 20 some artists working away at their art. I heard much the same thing, "This is hard! Working toward our own vision in our paintings. Skip kept at us -- prodded, and coached and encouraged us in our work. He could see just what our paintings needed. I recommend one of Skip's workshop to anyone.

One of our assignments for the week was to add a piece of nature to our paintings. Some of us really went out and made beautiful collages with natural elements. I added on single seed pod to this painting of a waterfall. It was a bit of nature that might have floated down the water way. Unfortunately it was very fragile. It did not survive the trip home.
 I have more paintings to show you tomorrow. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Purple enough? The vote is out!

Heres the final (until I see something that needs a touch) of my Iris. Again I am looking for a good title. Colors have been deepened. A bit more red mixed in. I had to take the photo on an angle to get the colors right and to avoid glare off the wet paint. 16x20 oil on deep sided canvas.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Purple Iris--following the color wheel around

I am one of those people who need a project or deadline to work to. Other wise I just think about what I want to do and never really get to it.  That is why I have created a  project for myself to paint flowers around the color wheel.
This week I have been working on purple--a really purple iris. I have always wanted to paint one of these  beautiful flowers but have been intimidated by their complex structure. I think I have this one under control. Painted from a summer photo that I enlarged and cropped really tight. I  have tried to have lots of lost and soft edges in the back ground and kept the harder edges in the focal point.

 I used ultramarine purple and blue and quin red for the petals. I found that using cad red I could grey the purple down for the softer passages. Cad red has the orange that is the complement of purple that quin red does not it also makes an interesting black. I am learning or should I say finally absorbing  and applying what I have read about color in my art books though the years.  A great side effect of this little project of mine.

This photo is an earlier work in progress (WIP) photo of the iris. Yesterday I got the colors much deeper and completed the bottom petals with the little fuzzy bits that iris has on the big lower petals.
I will get another photo today so you can see the difference. 

Thought you would like to see what I do to check my paintings while I am working on them. I have mirror on one wall that I use to look at my paintings in reverse. The mirror image really shows  where the painting needs improvement, changes, completion, color changes--anything at all. 
The Iris on my easel and a pretty good selection of my paintings on the walls. The old enamel topped table is my pallet. I taped old posters down to the table top that have been laminated. I can really spread out on the table and make a mess.If it gets too bad, I can strip the laminated paper off the top and tape a clean one down. The plastic can be cleaned up just like a regular palette as long as I keep ahead of the drying paint. I use copal drying medium with my paints, when they dry on the plastic they are there forever.

y way.....................
My mirror with the Iris painting reflected in it.  I do have to say that I love my studio space. I really thank my husband for suggesting that I get this space when I retired.  He was inspired. Thanks Sweetie!

And a photo of my other sweetie--Big Bear soaking up the winter sunshine.
I wish I could say that Bear is my cat but he has really adopted Dan as his Man. He will not sit on my lap like our other cats have. But he will perch on Dan's long thigh and will let Dan hold him in a nice tight hug. He is a man's cat, Big Black Bear

I really ran on today.....Sorry about that.