Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Watercolour lessons with the TAPS Seniors and High School Students

Community Projects can be the best! Creston's Rotary are sponsoring a collaborative project between the Creston TAP (Therapeutic Activation Program) Seniors and some high school students. Although there is no snow on the ground we are getting into the holiday spirit! The group is painting Christmas Holiday images in watercolour, several of which will be reproduced onto Greeting Cards for sale. I was honored to be asked to oversee this worthy and fun project.
Here are a few pictures from the first two painting sessions. We are concentrating on the painting in this first picture but there is lots of joking between the two age groups which makes the intergenerational project particularly fun.
Watercolour Painting Session

Painting Holly
Such detail in this Wreath

Lusciously Red Poinsettia
People's involvement is what makes these projects successful. Thank you Laura Leeder for giving us the holly, for inspiration and for donating some artist quality paper for the program. You can check out Laura's own lovely watercolour paintings here:  website .  Thank you so much to Claudette and Brenda for volunteering at the painting sessions. Stay tuned for an update on the progress of this project.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Free motion stitching from European Trip Sketches

Creston Card and Stationery Store sells local artwork and it is time for me to get some new fall textile cards to them. I started by looking through my hand dyed fabrics for suitable colours for fall and adding heavy interfacing to the back. I work on a 4 1/2" X 6 1/2" size for cards which can be placed in a standard 5 X 7 frame if desired.
I was having trouble visualizing what to place on the fabric rectangles having been away from free motion stitching for a few weeks. At first I thought the red and yellow one might work for a flamenco dancer... What do I know about drawing flamenco dancers? Nothing, so thinking that might not work out, I decided to turned to something I have some experience in drawing. I got out my sketchbook from a recent trip to Europe and looked for images that would fit the fabric. That ignited the creative fire and I away I went. I can't wait to spend a few hours stitching tomorrow.

A sketch I did as I was sitting on the bus waiting to go for a tour in Slovakia.

I've decided to add a window box in front of this window. I ran out of bobbin thread so will finish this image tomorrow.

Sketch of a Fisherman along the Rhine River. As he shifted positions, I placed both the sitting and standing position on this same sketch.

My husband, a fisherman, reassures me that this is easily identifiable as a man fishing.
I didn't get much sketched of this very old building in Vienna because I was having a wonderful conversation with a local woman, Clea, who was sitting next to me.

I have added some figures from memory of people sitting at an outdoor café. I haven't identified everything but I think it is enough.
"It is best to paint what we know", was said to me by a talented local artist. That advice really worked for me today as I felt engaged with the chosen image. Can't wait to start again tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Painting an Ever Changing Scene

Painting as we are cruising down the river
Some Aspects of this scene were included
Quick Watercolour Sketch was Painted while Travelling
Outdoor Café Scene is Constantly Changing

Plein air painting always has the weather elements to consider especially the changing light. There can be other elements to consider as well such as I experienced with the above two watercolour sketches. With the landscape, I found it was possible to paint while moving if I just let go of the need to capture the scene exactly as it was. For me, I started with something that I found interesting for a focal point. After deciding where to place that focal point, I quickly sketched what I could see of it initially and then what I could remember of it. After that, I added other elements, as they came into view, that I thought would complement the watercolour sketch. Therefore the view was made up but I think it describes the essence of what we were seeing as we cruised the river on a recent trip.
Even sketching a stationary scene can have it's challenges such as when someone plunked themselves down right in front me when I was sketching and outdoor café scene. I just had to adapt, peak around them and add in details from memory. This type of sketching and painting might seem frightening or frustrating to some but I encourage you to at least try plein air painting. You might find it as rewarding as I do! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wurzburg, Bavaria, Germany - Plein Air Painting

All Saints Bridge, Wurtzburg
Crossing the Main river near the medieval town center of Wurtzburg is the 'Old Main Bridge' (Alte Mainbrücke) which now seemed to be only for foot traffic. The day I was there sketching, it was a lovely warm fall late afternoon and many locals were socializing over glasses of wine from nearby restaurants. Musician spaced themselves along the bridge providing entertainment. It was a magical afternoon and we were awed to think we were standing on a bridge built around 1500. 

Kappele Church, Wurzburg, overlooking the Main River
This Kappele Church, built in a Baroque/Rococo style, demands attention as it sits up on a hill overlooking the Main River near Wurtzburg, Bavaria, Germany. This medieval city had much of its architecturally beautiful buildings destroyed in the war. I found it interesting to learn that the rebuilding over the next twenty years was mainly done by women. They were known as 'rubble women' and rebuilt to historical accuracy.  
That afternoon I met 3 other local artists and even if we weren't able to speak each other's language well we could still communicate through viewing each other's artwork.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sketching with a glass blown ink pen from Wertheim, Germany

Glass Pen from Wertheim, Germany
Glass blower: Hans Ittig  About Hans Ittig
Visiting Wertheim on a European River Cruise
The light was so yellow yesterday that it made the fall colours look brilliant. I couldn't resist getting out for a couple hour sketching session in our garden with the new glass pen my sister surprised me with. I had seen them before under glass counter tops in art stores but had never had the pleasure of having one. It  gives a variety of lines and holds a lot of ink which is what an artist is looking for. Love it!
Waterproof India Ink
Sketching with my Glass Ink Pen

Here I am adding some ink lines to a watercolour painting I had started last spring. It was never finished because it hadn't developed the way I had envisioned. Working on a painting like this can be really freeing for experimentation. Sitting outside in the warmth of the afternoon sun, I added some black ink lines using my new glass pen. 
In the studio this morning I decided to add some additional watercolour paint, toning down some areas and darkening some of the background to direct the viewer's eye through the painting. Winterwren birds frequent the area along the creek where this Azalea grows.
'Winterwren Woodland Azalea' 10" X 7"
 $179 plus shipping (Canadian/US Funds)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Painting while on the Danube River - Viking Cruise

Life on the Danube River,
Regensburg, Bavarian, Germany.

Royal Palace
Regensburg, in Bavaria, Germany
From the top deck of the Viking Ship, Bragi, as we were docked  in the medieval city of Regensburg, I was able to quickly sketch one of the two royal palaces that helps to give Regensburg it's status as a registered Medieval City by UNESCO. The architecture of the city, dates from the 11th to the 13th century and includes ancient Romanesque and Gothic buildings.
The challenges of this plein air painting included facing into the sun as well as trying to finish as the ship was leaving the dock! I still love plein air painting for capturing the immediateness of the scene that my studio paintings might not.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Painting on the Danube, Main and Rhine Rivers

Sketching while sitting in an outdoor café in Bamberg, Bavaria, Germany

Painting while going through the Randersacker Lock on the River Main, Germany
Watercolour sketches can capture a moment in time, I think, especially when having the opportunity to paint them on location. I had so much fun painting on this trip. Now looking at the quick paintings, I can remember what I was experiencing with some of my other senses. Hopefully it is the same for you. It was warmer the day I sketched the building in Bamberg than when I painted the vineyards. I think the colours chosen reflect that even though it was done unintentionally.
Check back later this week for more watercolour sketches/paintings of the  trip on the Danube, Main and Rhine Rivers. For those of you I met on this journey feel free to copy the paintings to your computer as long as you note myself, Eileen Gidman as the painter. For everyone else, enjoy the paintings and I hope it encourages you to take the trip.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Watercolour Lesson - Combining Positive and Negative Painting

Sunflowers painted positively. The object, here the sunflowers is identified with an outline and the object is painted inside those lines. Note the lines make up several shapes.

The same sunflowers are identified by painting around them. This is called negative painting.

The page has been divided into 4 equal quadrants and the sunflowers are outlined lightly. The upper left and lower right quadrants are painted negatively (around the object) and the upper right corner and lower left corner were painted positively, within the shapes that were created with drawing the sunflowers. Although the shift from positively painting and negatively painting the sunflowers is quite abrupt here in the demo, isn't it much more lively than either of the two above?

The same exercise as above with the addition of colour. The variety can add interest. Of course in a painting, the shifts from positively painting and object to negatively painting it, need not use the four quadrants specifically, but this is a great exercise and I must give credit to an instructor I learnt it from Tony O'Regan during my time at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design