Monday, May 25, 2015

Market Sunflowers and other adventures

Market Sunflowers
11 x 14 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

This painting was truly an adventure to paint. It is an image that I had wanted to try for some time yet I needed to be well prepared to tackle this complex subject. And it really was a puzzle of shapes and color that I enjoyed working out on paper. I captured this scene at our local farmers' market last summer and managed to paint it in time for the start of another farmers' market season, and just before we left for our annual trip to Edisto Beach.

Our Edisto adventure was glorious this year. Fantastic weather and a great cottage rental led to many hours of inspiration and art making. This was our screened porch where much creativity happened.
It was a wonderful spot to sit and do daily sketches. There was always something available as subject for a sketchbook page.
As the days wore on that large picnic table accumulated more and more objects, collected from our beach walks and found in local shops, produce for our next meal creation, and art supplies as well.
While at Edisto I also left several new art works at With These Hands Gallery. And here I am sketching the view of the marsh from Jungle Road Park. I will post some of the sketches made on this trip as soon as I can get them scanned and ready. Stay tuned...

Monday, May 4, 2015

in the news

A few months ago I was approached by the wonderful staff of Ann Kullberg's Colored Pencil Magazine to do a step-by-step article featuring one of my colored pencil works of the ocean. I must admit that I felt a little overwhelmed by the prospect of writing clear instructions for a magazine article! The featured work is a piece titled Ocean Blue. If you'd like to read in detail just how it was created do check out the May issue of this impressive magazine from Ann Kullberg.
And if you are looking for ocean themed art, a couple of the pieces shown in the article above are still available in my Etsy shop!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

time for flowers

There is something so joyful about seeing my lilac bush blooming in the spring. Last spring we had a late freeze and it didn't bloom at all. So I am delighted to see the blossoms this year in spite of our cool days and night time freezing temperatures. These sprigs of lilac were sketched with watercolor only in my hand made sketchbook.

The first wild-flower of the year is like land after sea.
-Thomas Wentworth Higginson, "April Days"

And here is a sneak peek at my current painting in progress. The image I photographed last summer at our local farmers' market. I am taking my time with this one, so many shapes in this composition! It is often tempting to go too dark with some values and not dark enough with others, so it was helpful to get that central dark area established early on.
Shape by shape, I enjoy dropping in color and allowing the wet pigment work its magic on the surface of the paper. This is one of those paintings that I can envision in its finished state. I can only go along for the ride until the journey is complete and hope it doesn't disappoint.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

sketchbook :: seeking color

A sketch of a grocery store bouquet in a thrift shop pitcher. Because this boldly colored pitcher demands brightly colored flowers.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Dreaming Of The Sea

Dreaming Of The Sea
6 x 12 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

My latest seascape in watercolor while I am missing those ocean waves. I could continue to work on this, but before I lose what is working, I am calling it finished. It's not always easy to know when to stop. Sometimes a painting will tell you. And sometimes your husband walks in and says "don't lose the freshness in this piece by painting too much".

Monday, April 6, 2015

sketchbook :: a bright spot

Yesterday we went on a short sketch outing to a nearby park, the Greenway Trail, that runs through town. Although it was a sunny afternoon, it was breezy and cool. I settled on a bench where I could see an old farm across the river. Although there were other structures in this scene, the cold breeze encouraged me to simplify and focus on only those necessay shapes, values, and color to compose a scene on my sketchbook page. Beyond the trees I could see the bright yellow of a forsythia in bloom, a welcome sign of spring when warmer days can't get here fast enough.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

take a little time

I have several new works selected to go to the gallery next month. Ordered frames have arrived so I have plenty to do getting the work ready. And even though I have many ideas lined up for new paintings I thought I'd take a break from all of that and take a little time to experiment with some different materials. So I picked up a package of small Aquaboards to take for a spin with watercolors.

I chose a subject I am well aquainted with just to see how it would feel painting on this unique surface. And here is my first test. I probably won't finish this piece because I'm not loving this painting support for watercolor. Some of the qualities that I really enjoy about watercolor just don't translate onto this surface. Dropped in color mostly just sits there. And additional layers pick up the color underneath. It is nice that color can easily be lifted back to the white of the board but all in all it's not for me. No magic happening here.

I did, however, want to let you know that for the entire month of April I am offering 15% off everything in my Etsy shop. Use coupon code APRIL15 between now and April 30th to receive the discount.

And if you follow my Facebook page I am having a give-away to kick off my shop sale! You can find the link to my Facebook page over there on the side bar or click here to enter the give-away. The winner will receive an original watercolor painting. But hurry, the drawing closes Sunday, April 5 and the winner will be announced Monday, April 6!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lunch With Ken

Lunch With Ken
8 x 8 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

I like finding still life subjects in the ordinary items we have around us. Those things we see, but don't really "see", until we notice something beautiful about them. In this case it was the assortment of colorful fruit and onions, along with the glass bowl, casually scattered on a counter top that I found interesting. I liked not only the color but also the repetition of circular shapes playing against the grid of the tile. It was a scene I noticed and snapped a quick photo for future reference. Well, I probably took the photo with my phone as it wasn't very clear. But that turned out to be okay as the fuzzy photo reference left me more room to make stuff up as I worked on this painting. And that's where the fun is.

Monday, March 23, 2015

sketchbook :: the set up

As promised in my last post, I am sharing my working set up for sketchbook journaling. Yes, I have returned to a hand made sketch journal, pictured above. After all of my experimentation with commercial sketchbooks I still find a hand made sketchbook the most satisfying to work in. This one is 7 x 8 inches and filled with 140 lb. Kilimanjaro cold pressed paper. You can read more about my actual sketchbook making process here.

I carefully considered the size for this journal. 5.5 x 7.5 inches is a nice size and it is possible to make a sketchbook with just two full sheets of watercolor paper without any waste. But after working in a couple of larger formats I wanted to go a bit larger than that. I did like the 7.5 x 9.5 inch size of the Strathmore sketchbook, although I often felt it was a bit too vertically oriented for the way I like to work. So I drew diagrams of several sizes and settled on 7 x 8 inches, which is 14 x 8 inches when fully opened for working across the page spread. I will note here though, that if I were to use a commercially made sketchbook, the Strathmore Soft Cover Mixed Media Sketchbook was my favorite of the bunch that I tried.
I also decided that it was time to renew my palette. I am still using the American Journey Travel Palette, which I love, and it has held up well these past few years. Yet some of the original colors were hardly touched while others I was constantly refilling. So after much experimentation I settled on the twelve colors in the chart above. All but two are American Journey watercolor paints.
My goal was to have a warm and a cool in each of the primaries plus green, as well a a couple of earth colors. To make my selections I tried many mixes with colors from my larger studio palette in order to see which would be the most serviceable in the long run. For example, Sour Lemon mixed with Alizarine makes wonderfully vibrant oranges and warm reds while Alizarine mixed with the warm Gamboge results in more subtle, earthy oranges. And as much as I love Royal Amethyst on my palette, I can achieve essentially the same purple hue with a mix of Permanent Rose and Ultramarine Blue. And Permanent Rose is a shade of pink nearly impossible to mix, so it stayed and Royal Amethyst was out.

Blues and greens were also tricky decisions. Ultramarine Blue had to be included, it is much too versatile not to include. However I replaced the Cerulean Blue that came with the palette with Phthalo. Turquoise. Even though Cerulean can make for a wonderful sky color, it is usually a bit too grayed for my taste. Especially with the vibrant blue skies we can have here in North Carolina. Phthalo. Turquoise fits the bill nicely, with endless variations when mixed with Ultramarine. And you can always tone down a hue, but you can't make a dull color brighter.
Now I realized with these color choices that I really didn't need a green. But the palette has twelve spots and it is nice to have basic colors handy. So Sap Green, my go-to green stayed. I have a Viridian on my studio palette but its intensity can be a bit much. That's when I picked up a tube of Phthalo Green, (blue shade), to take for a spin.
I really like the grays that Phthalo. Green and Alizarine produce, and the greens achieved when it is mixed with my selected yellows. Now for my earth colors I stuck with Burnt Sienna because it is such a versatile color. And I love Copper Kettle, a bit oranger and more intense than Burnt Sienna, is also a favorite. I swapped out the yellow Ochre from the original palette with Quin Gold. Again, it has a bit more intensity yet makes nice mixes. And a can't-do-without color on my palette is Shadow. Wonderful as a dark value, somewhat neutral, it would be easy to mix but it is nice to have it already there.
Now I also have a pocket watercolor palette, which holds 12 half pans. I filled it with the same selection of colors. The pocket palette fits neatly into this nifty sketch caddy, along with waterbrushes, a pencil and a couple of pens, and I have the lightest kit possible.

And there you have my sketching set up. Just like paper choices, color selections for a palette are highly personal choices. So I hope you find all of this information useful, as a behind the scenes look at what goes into my sketch bag, whether I am settled at the kitchen table or on a mountainside.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

sketchbook :: first blooms

Our daffidils have just begun to blossom. To celebrate the first day of spring I picked a couple to sketch in my newly made sketchbook. This sketchbook is made with 140lb Kilimanjaro cold press paper. I will have more about that and my selection of colors for my 12 color travel palette in my next post. Happy Spring everyone!


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