Sunday, September 27, 2009

Palletteers paint at Tamarind Reef

I always seem to begin a new blog post with a comment on our weather, so I decided that since you already know that our weather is great, I'd start this posting with a different observation: A plein air artist must always be prepared. Ok, we all know we have to remember our paints, mixes, paper or canvas, etc .. and I have to confess to having arrived with no white paint.. a "no no" for an oil painter. Since we often return to paint at a site where we've painted before, many of us arrive there with certain expectations. For instance, on Friday one of our artists planned to complete a painting she'd begun before. When she arrived she found out that the subject of her painting, a kind of landmark at Tamarind, was COMPLETELY gone! Has this happened to you, too? Another surprise on Friday was to find the picnic tables that are ALWAYS on their beach, gone too! This caused a major problem with one of the artists because she had nothing to work on, so ended up leaving.
Otherwise, Friday morning went well. Everyone who stayed produced a nice painting. I'd gone there planning to finish a painting I'd begun in May at the yacht club (so, no, Tamarind Reef doesn't have a bunch of boats moored off their beach). I'd needed to finish my masts and sails.. and wanted to look at the boats in Green Cay marina to make sure I did it correctly. After seeing everyone's artwork, we had a lovely lunch with great service at the Deep End Bar and Grill. With tourist season around the corner, during lunch we discussed upcoming exhibiting opportunities, the benifits of framing or not framing our artwork, and various ways to hang unframed watercolors. Everyone was urged to start separating their artwork now according to what "show" it will be in, make sure they have enough hanging hardware for it all, purchase what hardware they need, and also think about artwork that they might want to contribute for some of the charities on island.
If you haven't read my post about the artistree (that is located below this entry), please make sure you do.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Artists' Tree

This is how I've masked off my "paper" for my little 3" miniatures. The squares on the left side are too small, so I was just going to test paints in them, but then I realized that I could use them for teenier paintings that I'd cut out and glue to the front of a blank card to use as a greeting card. I paint in oils but the same method could be used for any medium. I always put a wash on my canvas so I put one on the "paper" too. *However, after taking this photo and posting it, I painted one more little painting and realized that my paper canvas was really soaking up the paint, so I went over the remaining boxes with a coat of gesso and that seemed to correct that problem a little bit.
This was the 2008 Artists' tree. Isn't it lovely? Connie did a great job of decorating it. It garnered $2100 in the auction. Below is a closeup of the framed mini's. Are you inspired yet?
I hope you're inspired. I know I am. Why am I posting this? We've been invited to participate in contributing paintings to be used as decorations on the artists' tree for the St. George Botanical Garden's Christmas Festival 2009. Our tree will be among several that will be auctioned off at a Gala Dec. 4 and remain up during Christmas Spoken Here Dec. 6.
I didn't participate in this project in the past because I paint in oils and didn't have any small canvases. I also am accustomed to painting much larger and that 3" square requirement daunted me. So I didn't participate and when I saw last year's gorgeous tree on display, I was sorry I hadn't. Through the year I've intended to try my hand at it but I knew I couldn't use canvas or masonite, so it wasn't until I recently discovered paper canvas that I realized that I had no more excuses. I also found out a few tricks from my fellow Palletteers. One, lady who does beautiful watercolors, said that she saves her paintings that "don't work" (I'm afraid we all have a few of those, huh?). Using a 3" frame she cut out of cardboard or paper, she holds it over her painting (that hadn't worked) to see what might make a good scene for a miniature. She draws a 3" square over the resulting image, cuts out that box, and a miniature painting has evolved. She can get more than one lovely mini out of some of her paintings that, as a whole, hadn't worked. I can't do that with my oil paintings because they're done on stretched canvas and once you cut them you have a limp piece of canvas, but those of you who work on paper canuse this idea. Another Palletteer uses masking tape and tapes off 3" boxes on a large piece of watercolor paper so that she might end up with 9-12 boxes, 3" each. Then when she goes to paint, she'll do different or variations on a scene in each of the boxes. She doesn't have to worry about the paint from one "painting" going into another because she's taped it. This I can do and, as you see in the photo above, I tried this with my paper canvas. As you can see, I came out with a few extra smaller squares on the side that I thought I'd use to test my colors.. and then realized that if I cut them out and glued them onto a blank card front, I'd have a greeting card with a nice original painting on it to send. So nothing is wasted: I like that. I tried out a test painting on it, using my 1:3 mix of mineral spirits, linseed oil, and damar varnish and I was amazed that it was dry to the touch by the end of the day. Wow! Oil painting on paper canvas works and there's no drying probem. *Since I first wrote that info above, I found out that I can use unstretched canvas or squares cut out of canvas, provided I glue the squares to a card stock backing.
I still had some questions, so I wrote to Connie Lemco, who's organizing this project, and asked her if the paintings should be exactly 3" squares or if they needed to have margins of any kind. She responded that exactly 3" is fine. They should be done on art paper (or in my case, paper canvas which doesn't have to be stretched). I'm assuming that they really don't want to take the time to cut out all of our paintings from a page so cut them yourself. Since they will be framing them in little gold frames, we don't have to do anything else to our artwork in order for the paintings to hang on a tree. I'll venture that any subject that could be on a tropical island would be great (so no snow scenes :^). I don't recall seeing paintings of any holiday subjects on last year's tree but I could be wrong. Oh, and don't forget to sign your little minis... although I think they add your name to the back of the frame, Ive always thought it makes a painting "real" when I see the artist's signature on it.
The artists' tree is one of several that are decorated by various individuals and organizations on island and bring in thousands of dollars for the Garden. The Artistree is always the most popular and usually goes for over $2000. Artists are invited to donate one or more 3"x3" works of art that are framable. Jake at Gallows Bay Frame will put them all in gold 3X3 frames. Connie Lemco is in charge of decorating the tree and hopes to have about 40 pieces, so we're encouraged to give as many as you wish-- there is no limit. Any medium is OK (including jewelry), and any subject is OK, as long as it fits in a 3X3 frame. Off-island Palletteers who would like to contribute can mail their work or take your piece(s) to Jake at Gallows Bay Frame, 5012 Starboard St., Gallows Bay, Christiansted, VI 00820, any time between now and Thanksgiving. Any other questions, email me at and I'll try to get your answers.
So today my "project of the day" is to fill those little squares with mini-masterpieces. This is going to be fun. Why not join me... you in your studio, me in mine... and we'll work together on it? Once you get started, you'll be amazed at how quickly you finish your teeny paintings (especially if you're accustomed to working much larger.. of course, almost any size can fall into that category, eh?). Begin with something you like to paint: clouds, the sea, a little Cruzan house, a flower, .. and then you'll see how those creativity thoughts get triggered. I'm ready!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Palletteers at Carambola Beach Resort

The Palletteers had a great time painting to the rhythm of the gently lapping waves at Carambola Beach Resort. The day was pristine with a clear blue sky full of perfect clouds and the summer's heat relieved by soft sea breezes. Shade was plentiful as we situated ourselves under the trees or on one of the palm covered beach cabanas and blissfully painted our morning away! After our "show and tell" under the palms we enjoyed a great lunch served right there at Carambola.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Palletteers Paint at Pollys

Sorry I'm late entering the photos for this blog. Just got my laptop back this afternoon, so there shouldn't be any more problems with that. The Palletteers enjoyed a lovely morning painting at Pollys at the Pier on Friday. Most of us could be found focused on depicting some of the Jean Merwin style gingerbread houses that immediately catch your eye when you enter Polly's courtyard.
Over the weekend, while I waited for my laptop to be fixed, I finished the oil I'd started Friday that was 90% complete when it left Polly's after our delicious lunch on there (the 80% version is pictured above). The "experts" seem to agree that a painting can be considered plein air if 80% of it was done on location. Because I work in oils, which don't dry as quickly as waterbased paints, my paintings are often not completed on location but await their finishing touches at home. I'm not alone: some of the waterbased artists, who might work more slowly or spend time adding details to their pre-painting drawings, often haven't completed their paintings by show and tell time, either. We complete them by returning to the site a next time, by relying on photos we've taken, or by relying on pure memory. When I left Polly's the other day, for instance, I ventured up the street to the buildings near the Museum Center to take some reliable photos of their signs and the flags so I could complete those details in a painting of that area I'd begun in early summer. Mission accomplished and, I'm happy to say, that painting is finally finished now, too!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Palletteers Enjoy Fabulous Friday at Freda's

It was wet! It was blowy! It was TD Erika! But the Palletteers paint, rain or shine, and Friday proved to be a good example of how we see a challenge and are undaunted by it. We met at Schooner Bay Marketplace and wended our way, caravan-style, up the hill to Freda and George Logan's hilltop home. Once we arrived, we welcomed by Gorgeous Greta Garbo, the Logan's great dane, who proceeded to escort us around. We surveyed the situation, walked around to see what we wanted to paint, set up. and began painting. Most of us painted inside, a few of us braved the weather and some of us didn't paint at all but chose to just visit and enjoy the morning. Ginger Rogers, the Logan's brand new kitten, periodically romped around and entertained us. The weather cleared a bit, then rained some more.. Meanwhile, our hostess Freda prepared a lovely lunch for us with rich, chewy, gooey brownies baked by Jeanne. As we all relaxed eating lunch after our show and tell, it was wholeheartedly agreed that it was a scrumptious way to spend a Friday morning! Thanks Freda and George!