Sunday, October 20, 2013

Mistakes as Learning Tools

So this fall I just have one little painting class I'm teaching.  Two of the students took painting last year, and our media was watercolor and neocolor II pastels.  So this year we switched to Acrylics so they could learn a medium which will be more similar to the classic... oils.  (Oils are too time intensive and messy for traveling back and forth with materials, this is not a big school where we can store materials, the students have to take their supplies home to complete homework)

I've never used acrylics in a classical painting sense.  Lots of decorative painting in acrylics, and wall murals, but not with artist quality acrylics on canvas.  It's been challenging, and fun, I'm learning as much or more than the children (students are all in early teens).

The painting we completed in our 2.5 hour class this week was not much of a success as far as resulting in a painting I'd be proud of, but it did teach me much.

I did 2 versions... the first to familiarize myself with the exercise and to break it down into teachable steps.  The second time demonstrating it to the students as they followed along making their own versions.

I used a free painting lesson found on Will Kemp's website (he's a fabulous teacher!), he offers the resource photo as a free download and 5 videos of himself teaching and completing the painting step by step.  So thankful that I discovered his website, it helped me decide on a palette for the class which would not be overwhelming, over priced and give us lots of flexibility.  Here's his website;

So here are my (sad) results... version one at left, version 2 in the middle and the reference photo at right...

In the first version I was pleased with the clouds, hated my water and felt so so about my wet beach reflection.  In the second I am less pleased with the clouds, not much more pleased with my water, but happier with my wet beach.  By placing them next to one another along with the reference photo I can quickly see what I could have done to improve each version.  I overworked my water in the first and it feels lumpy and's coming forward too much.  The colors are off.  In the second it may be slightly improved, but still overworked and doesn't have any movement.  If I had done a more general, loosely stroked sea... paying better attention to the values and lines of the photo it would greatly improve the sea.  I can paint right over those crummy bodies of water and try to get it right (yeah acrylics!), and I may.

Mr Kemp's version is WAY different than mine... more impressionistic and clearly less overworked, resulting in a more painterly version. Have a peek here; Sunset Landscape by Will Kemp. I haven't been able to get comfortable with that style of art. (I lean more toward realism, but am trying to become more flexible.  I've had better success with doing that in watercolor, simply because it's less forgiving than acrylics, so you have to stop before you ruin things. Ha ha) It's lovely to watch him paint with such ease, and talking while working too, that's not an easy feat. 

It will be interesting to see my student's finished paintings when they return.  We weren't able to completely finish them in class. 

So... crummy paintings are a big part of learning to paint, and are valuable.  If you stop because you aren't able to achieve the desired result (the first time, or 2nd or 3rd), you will not move forward in your skills.  (obviously!)You must not be discouraged with failures, but see them as learning tools, enjoy the process and allow yourself to feel good about the parts that worked and the poor bits to help you discover new techniques and learn perseverance. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Things that fade...

Paintings fade too...
Not so, the Words of God.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Recipe for Becoming a Lonely Soul, or as Christ said a 'Wicked Servant'.

If a person cannot learn forgiveness (their need to forgive others and their need to be forgiven) as a necessary and practically constant way of life, they will never feel like they belong and are a part of a family or a community. Honesty, truth, vulnerability, give and take, respect, allowing for different opinions, convictions and choices are all important... but people are sinners and sinners always and repeatedly offend one another, sometimes intentionally and sometimes quite by accident. We must be willing to deal with offenses according to God's word, which is in a forthright and healthy manner and then, no matter the result, let them go. If a person cannot or will not do this they will ultimately live in an emotional lonely-land, nursing eternal grudges.  That is a life of self-torture. 

Humans are easily offended, yet when it comes to our own carelessness, unkindness or sharp words, we often cut ourselves great slack and make excuses.  We seldom extend that same light treatment to those who offend us.  (Jesus' brilliant speck and log illustration comes to mind)

It is actually frightening how many verses there are commanding us to forgive others.  Verses promising God's action toward us if we fail to heed the command.  Here are a mere two. 
 "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." 
Ephesians 4:32
"...Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”   
 Matthew 18... go on, read the whole chapter.  ;) Then act on it what you've learned. If not, you are choosing loneliness and wickedness... no one else is at fault.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A little trip continued ~ Metropolitan Museum of Art

 These few posts about our trip are probably boring as sitting in a corner to all but me!  So feel free to breeze past!  ;)

Still on day one.... after meeting up with Jesse in mid-town, we had some good Thai (Thai @ Lex) from one of the gazillion hole in the wall joints to be found in NYC we headed to The Met.  I really cannot do justice in describing the MASSIVE nature of the Metropolitan Museum... you could easily go here every day for a few days in a row and not see everything... you could perhaps, walk through every exhibit in a few days.  It's truly jaw dropping in it's scope as well as in the incredibly intimate proximity you can have with masterpieces of art, architecture, statuary, artifacts and much much much more.  To stand next to ancient masterpiece from the Bronze Age (2000 bc), and not even have any type of partition between oneself and the artifact is hard to believe.  There are many pieces behind Plexiglas cases (most of which are accessible from all sides) but so many things are simply standing in a large space where one can walk right up to to it to examine and admire. I hope my pictures will convey a teensy sampling of what you can find at The Met.  We spent several hours and walked and walked and walked... and read and read and read, and were A M A Z E D over and over.

Greek Pottery, 7th Century BC

Add caption

Look Ma.. no barricade, guess it's not too valuable at thousands of years old!  

Bronze helmet and nik naks, didn't get date, but they were BC
Roman torso, marble 1st Century AD

See what I mean, don't bump things! 

Greek 4th Century BC

Haunting statue remains....  (Greek 4th Century BC)

This Bronze 'The Boxer' is a special exhibit, not permanent.  Fascinating info;
Pardon the immodest angle, didn't notice at the time... really!!

If you didn't click on the link, please's really interesting.  This bronze was saved from destruction from the barbarian invasion by burying it... wasn't rediscovered till the 1800s...

I loved this girl with deer.  :) 

Look... oak leaves and acorns, a lasting design element!  

Guess why he is looking up?  Because it's Emperor Constantine I, looking to the Savior (we hope the conversion was sincere) , marble head, 320 ad

OMG the artwork!  American painter, Edward Hooper 1930s

Georgia O Keefe!  (more paintings coming up!)

Large marble table with intricate, beautiful details....curled hair, cloth, floral wreath... 

Front of the same marble table, beautiful proportion, hands, feet, spilled bowl and notice the zodiac symbols around the table's edge.  Imagine the talent and time involved in carving and polishing this.

Beautiful expression... 

Ron walking around an old greek god...  ;)

Okay, you just have to get over the blatant displays of nakedness in these statues. They are true to the greek myths from which the subject matter comes. Still this statue of  Perseus with the head of Medusa is a magnificent piece of art!  1804 by Antonio Canova

Sit down and have a chat with Pharoah, he dressed more modestly.  ;)

The Egyptian collections at The Met are breathtaking.  

Exit?  No way. 

Many intricate small nik naks were buried with royalty in their tombs.  

Painted mud-plaster ceiling fragment from the palace of Amenhotep III, 18th Dynasty, 1300's BC. 

Original reward/wanted poster from Lincoln's assassination.

Finally... Christ the Redeemer.  Italian marble 1600s.  (most Christendom antiquities are housed at The Cloisters, another part of the Met, on the other end of Manhattan.  Photos from that trip are coming in their own post.)

I'm about HALFWAY through my Met shots, and have omitted dozens (really!).  More coming later.  ;)    

Monday, June 17, 2013

Changes and a short trip to Manhattan.

Recently life has been full of (even more) Changes...
Re-entry to the workforce for me (after 30ish years)!  This has been interesting, hard, but good.  It is still a situation in flux.  But a huge change for me, which has taken away much of my 'free time' and thus, my blog has lain dormant.

A totally quiet and empty 'nest' as our hound has recently joined the departed.  Petey grew suddenly old and ill in April and we needed to usher him into doggie after-life, whatever that may be. My hope is he is awaiting us in heavenly mansions.... unlikely, but one hopes.  ;)   (Good thing I'm working, or that would have been harder than it was, and it was plenty grievous!)

And a short Trip!

Our youngest son is remaining in his 'College Town' for summer to work and continue course work, so we made a plan to go and visit him so it wouldn't be a full year till we see him again. We flew across the country to Newark NJ and then took the train across to the 'big apple', little island of Manhattan.  We had only been there briefly, when we checked out the University.  So we gave ourselves a whopping 5 days this time.  Ha ha!

The train from NJ deposited us right at the World Trade Center, next to, and in the shadow of the new, gleaming, still under construction Freedom Tower (one of 4 buildings that are being built to replace the terrorist attacked Twin Towers.  I love that chutzpah... you take down 2, we'll put up 4! Another interesting fact is that the Freedom tower is exactly 1776 feet high.  Cool, huh?) Our son, Jess's financial district apartment is a just short walk from the tip of Manhattan and the 9-11 memorial.  It was early evening, but we are so far north that it doesn't get dark until well after 8 pm... some scattered clouds signal coming rain storms.  It was a dramatic entry into this historic and significant slice of land!  We dropped our bags at the apartment and set off on foot to find a local restaurant...  It began to rain and we wound up at a wharf, and mostly closed establishments... eventually we found a sea-food place, above which is a shopping center and upon going up there we found a lively Cuban Nouveau restaurant that turned out to be simply fabulous.  Amazing food!  Well worth the hunt.  (Cabana seaport location) On a sunny day/night there would be incredible views... for us it was raining.  ;)

The next day was our first official full day in New York City and Jess had a morning class to catch, so we followed behind at a slight delay, took the subway to Penn Station in mid-town where we'd later meet him.  We wound up having breakfast at a nice little cafeteria called 'The Stage Door', across the street was Madison Square Garden/Penn Station and on the other side of the street the HUGE James Farley Post Office, a greek revival structure built in 1912.  It was pouring rain.  Here are a few pictures from our first morning...

From our little table inside 'The Stage Door' the subway stairs, and
across the street Madison Square Garden, and the bldg. on right, the
huge main Post office for Manhattan (more on this below, & clicking on pictures enlarges them)

This huge structure has a fascinating history, and will soon become Moynihan Station, and no longer be a post office.  :(

Madison Square Garden

Inside the huge lobby of the Post office

There is a rotunda at each end of the post office lobby with museum and historic artifacts.

Looking from the rotunda into the Lobby.  You can get a sense of the high ceiling and architectural details.
Next up an afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum.

Monday, January 28, 2013


These are the skies in my neighborhood this morning.  We've had 3 days of significant rainfall (significant by Arizona standards!)  We needed it to relieve the drought and low rainfall totals.  I am hopeful that if we can get another shower or two over the next month we may have a beautiful wildflower season this year. 

Here's a haiku I composed on the topic...

Storm clouds sob then weep
Rare gift to desert's hid seed
Blooms will rise to breathe.


These red poppies were a demonstration piece done for my painting students, in neocolor II pastels.  We may get gold poppies soon, but if you want these red varieties, you have to visit the nursery.  ;) 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Long time no blog!

Well, gee... what can I say?

 Holidays...busy... out of state visitors... blah blah blah. 

Anyway... here I am again. 

We had a special Christmas since all of our boys were home, together for the first time in a long time.  Aside from the majority of the group having nasty colds, it was lovely. 

Today, however, was not all lovely... today was the dreaded day we took 'baby boy' to the airport to fly across the country back to College, and he has no scheduled plans to return home this coming summer.  So it was a tough and teary farewell this time. 

To distract myself from a too quiet house I went to the DBG.  It was cold and breezy but sunny.  I particularly kept my eye out for my favorite color... yellow.  This was prompted by today's 'Joy Dare' (Ann Voskamp's challenge to record 3 blessings, gifts or 'joys' each day. here (click on 'Take Joy Dare'))  Today's prompt was '3 yellow gifts of fresh mercy!'  After choosing 3 to share on facebook I decided to look for more.  I needed to focus on these little blessings on a day when my heart could easily have chosen to be full of self-pity or sadness.  It was beautiful at the garden.  Here are some of my photos... not everything was golden hued, but all were warm fuzzy experiences!  ;)  

I even slowed down and did a little 'plein air' watercolor sketch on one of the patios they've recently opened to the public and which has some lovely little place to sit and enjoy the surroundings.  

Thank you for your patience during my absence, and may 2013 be a year where many golden blessings are noted in your life.