Saturday, January 18, 2014

Wabi-sabi photos

I wanted to share some photos I took this summer, August, 2013, that, hopefully, will inspire some new paintings.  I purchased the book Wabi-sabi Art Workshop by Serena Barton this summer and the philosophy behind this book is to take time to look at our surroundings and notice the humble portions of the scene.  In other words, instead of looking at an interesting old weathered barn, look at the actual weathered wood and notice the intricate details within that small portion of the wood. 

Since one of my trips included a visit to my sister in California, I thought I would take some photos of her beautiful garden (she has 10 green fingers!) and try to zoom in on individual flowers rather than taking photos of her whole garden.  The following photos are the product of that day's journey through her special garden and retreat. When looking at the photos, try to observe the areas of color, light and shadow, patterns, textures, as well as the gorgeous blooms she is able to grow.  These photos will be used to experiment with those more abstract qualities rather than trying to paint the actual flowers.  It will be interesting to see what comes from these possibilities!  For now, I hope you enjoy the photos.  And watch for the experimental paintings that follow.

Notice the contrasts between the delicate spikes against the course texture of the ground; the spot of the hot pink dried petal against the freshness of the white bloom.  This was one of my favorite flowers.  I may use this for the first experiment.  

I like the harsh angles of the Bird of Paradise against the natural form of the dark green tree tops and bright blue sky.

The shadows look so delicate and lacy compared to the actual flower and leaves.

The large leaves, the spacing, and the color variations in the sun and shadow caught my attention.  I also like the contrast the geometry of the brick background creates against the sporadic spacing of the leaves and the wonderful pop of blue violet of the flowers.

I loved the lacy petals of this bloom.  But what really caught my attention was the colors of the dappled background!

Once I started looking more closely at individual areas, I was fascinated by the courseness of the ground texture, especially against the extremely delicate light blue flowers.  It makes the tiny flowers look so innocent and pure. 

The bougainvillea plant has always been a favorite of mine. I loved how brilliant the color was in the sunshine, how MANY colors of pink there were and the blue sky peeking through the bright green leaves.

I really like the contrast of the gorgeous petals in hot pink to white pink to DEEP dark burgundy against the dull burnt sienna bricks and the backdrop of rectangles.

The almost coral red fading to purple is wonderful and the tiny spikes just add a more magical feel to this bloom.  I also love the negative space of this bloom. 

I loved the deep purple of the leaves against the raw clay pot.  With the deep, sharp shadow of the leaves and the spot of pure white, this tiny bloom captured my heart.

The thin spiky leaves going every which way created interesting line patterns against the calmness of the simple white petals.

I love the nubbins of this plant.  The texture and subtle color variations along with the high contrast of bright light and dark shadows should make an interesting composition.

This was one of my favorite flowers in my sister's magical garden.  I was fascinated by the tiny seed pods at the end of the stems.  I just love the repetitive shapes this bloom makes.

This is a photo of the FLOWER ABOVE as it looks in January when it is in bloom (I had thought it was a bloom in photo above!).  I had my sister look up this blogsite when I published it (on Jan. 18th, 2014). When she got to the above photo, she said, "Oh, you have to see it now!"  She grabbed her laptop and ran to the garden to show me how it looked.  It was so amazing, and SO different from how it looked in August that I took a photo of my laptop screen!!!!  It worked!  Isn't it beautiful?  Who would ever guess these two photos are of the exact same flower, just 4 months difference in growth!  I just had to share this with you.  Isn't technology wonderful??!!!!  

I thought the vertical direction of the actual plant was an interesting contrast to the horizontal stripes on the leaves.  I also liked the chiaroscuro, the play of light and dark, in this photo.

I loved the delicate, tiny blue blooms against the larger, heartier succulent and both in contrast to the rough background.  I also want to play with the bright small bright green leaves against the dull blue-green/gray of the succulent.

The next few photos are of some areas or subjects that I found interesting, or spoke more personally of my sister's touch to the garden.

The contrast between the rough texture of the cement against the harsh, sharp shadow was interesting to me.

Is this crazy or WHAT!  My sister found this piece of drift wood with a rock stuck in it.  I not only loved that rarity, but found the contrast between the gentle curves of the driftwood and the geometric wood background to be very interesting.....same substance, one natural and free, one forced into submission--and the stuck rock just emphasizes that concept.

My sister and I grew up on a farm in central Kansas.  Her garden gate reminded me of our barn, for some reason.  I loved the way the "X" looks against the floppy, spiky, thin leaves and how the leaves seem to softly embrace the strong sturdy gate.

These are my sister's yellow garden boots.  I loved the color contrast against the gray cement.  The simple shapes and color seem in contrast to the utilitarian use and the image of all the hard work that goes into her magical retreat.

The last two photos were taken at the beach where we spent one glorious day.  I could have taken more wabi-sabi photos that day, but I was too enthralled with the experience of being back on the beach to spend the time taking pictures!

This is FULL of contrasts!

Loved the circles in this rock and how it was buried in the sand.  REALLY wanted to bring this rock home with me!

I hope you have enjoyed taking a walk with me through my sister's garden and a peek in to how I see the world.  I really like this concept of looking closer at the world around us.  I have always tried to do that with my compositions, but the wabi-sabi seems to take me even farther into the spirit of each subject.  I think it will be interesting and fun to see how these translate into paintings.  Please feel free to offer comments or ideas, or tell me how this has inspired you to move closer to the humble things in life.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Mixed Media Portraits

The following mixed media portraits were created between 2008 and 2009.  They are of my grandchildren and great niece and nephew.  I created seven portraits, two are unavailable for this post, that were given as gifts to the parents during a family reunion.  These are rather loose portraits that I hoped captured the personalities of the children and had a whimsical feel to them.  I have also created one of these portraits for one of my Junction City students in 2012.  

Kathryn Reilly, 2009

Maxwell Alexander, 2009

Lillee Celeste & Mom, Nicky, 2008

Reilly Josephine, 2008

Calleah Elizabeth, 2008

Commissioned piece I did for one of my CCCC students, fall, 2012--photo used with permission of Judith W.

I would be interested in painting some portraits for Valentine's day or Mother's day. 8"x10" painting, matted and framed in a solid wood frame, 11"x14". Buyer needs to provide several photos for me to work with. Mixed media--watercolor, colored pencil, ink. $50.00 plus shipping.