Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Mama is a Big Fat Woolly Sheep! Sketchbook Travels!

"Now I lay me down to sleep, 
My mama's a big fat woolly sheep!"

Did you ever love those novels that take place in the southwest of Ireland, where our heroine is walking through pastures, towards the cliffs overlooking the crashing ocean waves. 

The ocean is calm today, the sun is out. The sheep are resting in the warmth of a summer day, little lambs tucked in beside their mother. A gentle breeze blows the fresh ocean air.  Breathe deeply, take in your vast surroundings, green as far as you can see on landside, deep ocean aqua blue across the Atlantic and Dingle Bay. 

Now put yourself in her place...you are that heroine! Stop along your walk, take out your sketchbook and record the scene, maybe a little vignette - to remind you of the day in a way that no photo ever, ever will! 

I'm inviting you to come along dear! Now is the time for you to consider telling your own story, changing the course of your life. Choosing fun and creativity.  Has someone told you that you cannot draw? (was it you that told yourself that?). Rubbish! Everyone starts at the beginning (as one of my most respected teachers gently told me). I'm here to show you that you CAN!! All levels will enjoy this week of sketching and watercolor journaling in the Ring of Kerry area!

Sketchbook journaling is personal, not for show, totally for enjoyment, a great way to 'practice seeing and experiencing the world'. 

If you've been following my blog posts for a while, you know that I've been back many times to this area of Ireland. My friend Barbara Mastaglio (also a painter) runs art retreats and workshops at her home on Valentia Island, Ireland. I think it will be my 10th(?) time there. I've gone as a student, and have taught plein air oil painting there a few times as well. 
My love for sketch-book journaling has grown over the last several years, and I've wanted to share this trip with those who would like to experience the same! 
I took up watercolor painting back in the late 90s while living in San Diego, and was a member of the San Diego Watercolor Society. We'd have weekly paint-outs all year long! My fondest memory was painting along with many of our older members (mid-80s at that time) who were retired Disney illustrators. Some of them would share some really interesting stories about working for "Mr. Disney" on movies like Bambi, and Dumbo! We would paint all morning until noon, and one of these fellows then led a critique. It was a great way to get out there and learn!
Click here, for more photographs of what you'll see. 

Click here for more info of what you'll be learning and what's included.

$500 will hold your spot, 
Click here for registration information and to reserve your place!
I look forward to having you join us!

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Importance of a Good Title for Your Painting!!

8"x8" oil on gallery wrapped canvas, framed
Commissioned work- "Like Sunshine On A Cloudy Day"

Most parents put lots of care into naming their babies. They understand it can carry a lot of weight and be either a blessing or a curse! I'm always curious as to why some artists give no more thought to naming their painting than "Untitled, #1". What does that mean? Did the artist even care about it? Where is the emotional response to your subject? Why are you painting it?  

When I paint for myself, I choose things that really excite me, make me happy, get me lost in some wondrous thoughts. And when I don't...I'm lost- I'm not a painter of just "things or places". When I originally painted one quite similar to this several years ago, I had the song "My Girl" on my mind, humming away, thinking of the movie, and the many times I watched it with my daughters years ago.  The phrase "Like Sunshine on a Cloudy Day" stuck with me - as that's what my daughters are like to me.  

Well, I just had a request for a commission come through my email, and this fellow had googled this phrase....found my painting...saw that it was sold...but contacted me to see if I could paint one similar to that. You see, this phrase was what he called his wife....who had recently passed away late last year. I was so moved by his story - we had a wonderful email conversation. He is putting together quite a lovely tribute to her - and I am feeling blessed, humbled, and oh so grateful to be able to do this! 

I came across a wonderful quote this evening, "Make your love visible in the world through your work." - Robert Lawrence Smith, former headmaster of the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC.   

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

"I'll Take You To Italy"- a wonderful love story painted!!!

18"x24" oil on cradled birch panel
Commissioned work

When I get the opportunity to work on commissioned pieces for my collectors, I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I truly appreciate my 'job'. It dawned on me recently that almost all of my commissions (actually perhaps every single one) is a love story of some type or another.  Each story has been as sweet, and beautiful as the next.  

This couple met at a charity auction, and both were bidding on a trip to Italy.  Neither of them won the bid. The woman was disappointed, but the man (who was obviously smitten) offered, "I'll take you to Italy"!  A few years later, this is where they stayed- and now, I get to paint it for them! 

Travel memories are some of our strongest and fondest memories - especially when romance is involved! It's especially wonderful to commemorate and celebrate these wonderful times in our lives.  It's another way of "making your love visible in the world"...an outward sign of inner joy.  

Make sure you don't miss my next post! I'll tell you why choosing a good name for your painting is as important as naming your child!  

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Bringing Home All The Fun!

I've been enjoying a bit of fun on Instagram (just look for roxannesteed on there. I had never tried taking those little video shorts - oh my goodness, now that is a cute little blast of fun.  Hoping to share it here with you. Just working on some sketches, planning our trip to Ireland this September 11th through the 18th.  For specific details of our trip, you'll want to check out this link.  

Can a place be exciting, mysterious, beautiful, charming, restorative, and intriguing? Well, it is all of these things on Valentia Island and the surrounding areas that we go painting and exploring. I've been back many times now, I'm starting to feel like a local. Our host Barbara Mastaglio lives there part of the year, and takes us places that "the regular tourists" don't get to see or experience.  I do hope you'll join us. For all levels of sketching experience- I'll teach you techniques to use, and you'll be bringing home all the fun - memories you'll treasure forever. 

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Commissioned Paintings - Giving Your Buyers Some Choices

Commissioned pieces are so much fun for me! Helping someone commemorate a special time in their life is truly a delight...and I don't take it for granted that I'm very lucky to be able to do that and share in that joy!

When I got the call to take on this project, my new collector had a wonderful reference photo from her travels. I knew I would be able to have some real creative fun with this! First was to take her photo and play with some possible focal points. By changing up the values and color of certain items; flowers, walls, cast shadows - the photo could be interpreted a bit differently.  I made 2 different color studies (smaller, but to scale) and photographed them along the way as I painted. That way if I went too far and didn't like the changes...I already had a version of where I coulda/shoulda stopped! 
Here's an example- before I added the cast shadow joining the two buildings, I had this area with no shadow down the center walk-path. 

The second painting I'll have the focal point on the right side of the painting. First I'll have it be on a small grouping of white flowers that happened to be in the original painting. 
 Then, I decided to carry the design of the white flowers up to the turquoise-blue door on the right, for a bit more impact, like this:
Now, that my buyer has had time to peruse some ideas, she has pulled together her favorite parts. This is what I enjoy about a commission - making it a collaboration. So they understand the choices along the way, each party taking the time to enjoy the process.  
Now, I'm off to work on scaling up this drawing:
onto my freshly gessoed panel. 
If you follow along on my blog, you'll get to see what my clients have selected .....oooh- this is going to be fun! (I love this part!).
I'll be leading a sketchbook workshop in Ireland this September. Mark your calendars for September 11-18, 2016. Bring back a personal treasure that you'll be sure to enjoy! I'll be updating info here on my website, shortly!



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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

"Water's Edge", Watch Rock Preserve, Old Lyme, CT, IRISH TRAVEL JOURNAL artist's workshop

6"x6"x1" oil on archival cradled panel
For more information, or to purchase, click here.

I am really enjoying the process of these paintings - starting with a watercolor sketch on location, and basing an oil painting on these, using intuition, memory and the color sketch. 

This is such great fun, and I find that I'm able to record a lot of 'usable' information visually. Not only do I get to enjoy the sketch journal, but I enjoy them a second time when I use them for the basis of an oil painting. 

If you like this idea, you should consider joining me this September in Ireland! I am leading & teaching an IRISH TRAVEL JOURNAL workshop. We'll be based on Valentia Island, with Barbara Mastaglio's Art on the Ring of Kerry (Ireland) Plein Air Artist's Retreat. I've been there many times now....8? 9? or 10? after a while, who's counting- I'm welcomed like a local, and you will be, too! Barbara lives there when she's not in the U.S. and we are able to see and experience some incredible things! Mark your calendar for September 11-18th, 2016. The website will be updated soon will this year's information: http://www.valentiaart.com/ In the mean time, enjoy the scenery!


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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

December Gold, Old Lyme, Watch Rock Preserve, CT

6"x8" oil on linen mounted on archival panel

I've embarked on a fun series of paintings along the Connecticut River. They'll be part of a show this summer in Old Lyme, CT.  Back in November, when it started getting chilly, I started taking my sketch-book all around with me, and sought out places along the river. A friend of mine directed me to Watch Rock Preserve, and I have to admit, I've fallen in love with the place...in all seasons.  Carrying my sketchbook along became pretty efficient for me, and I decided to paint in oils from these sketches and memory.  My oil paintings aren't a "botanical review" by any means, but an interpretation of the brilliance and exuberance I feel from the good energy of the river!

Here's a view of the quick sketch from my sketch-book:
I know a lot of artists really resist painting on location, and paint only from photos. While photos can be an 'okay' memory jogger, there's nothing like capturing 'color notes' on location, while the 'exciting thing' is staring you in the face! Hearing the birds, smelling the brine of the water at low tide, watch the water sparkle as the sun burns through mist...all those things stay with you when you take part in nature....by just sitting ...slowing down...and observing. Your heart rate slows, your breathing steadies, ahh....nature therapy is the best prescription for any thing that ails you!

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