Wednesday, October 19, 2016

sketchbook :: Edisto series

Ever since Hurricane Matthew cruised up the East Coast a couple of weeks ago, my mind has been on our beloved Edisto Island in South Carolina. Edisto took a direct hit from the hurricane and has sustained a lot of damage. Keeping up with the news reports and seeing photos of the destruction was, and is, heartbreaking.

I began pouring through my photo inventory from Edisto with the idea of creating a new series of paintings based on that island that we love so much. This top sketch is inspired by the walking path that takes you out to Botany Bay on Edisto Island. Sorry about the wrinkles but this big Seawhite sketchbook is a bit unwieldy for my scanner.
And this one comes from the view out to St. Helena Sound.
Another St. Helena Sound view. I love those tall sea grasses.
I am using a variety of water media with these sketches, watercolor pencils and crayons, Inktense pencils and blocks, a water soluble graphite pencil, charcoal, and a little gesso sometimes here and there. I am exploring imagery from Edisto that is something other than my usual seascapes. You know how I love painting water and waves! But for this series I am looking for a different perspective on that beautiful island, so I plan to explore ideas through lots of sketches and studies.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Raven Rocks

Raven Rocks
10.25 x 14 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Here is one more painting in my Raven Rocks series. With this series I have challenged myself to limit my palette in order to use color that is more expressive and interpretive as well as explore a more expressive painting style.  Although I will not post every painting in this series, overall I am satisfied with my results and I am now excited to carry this over into a new theme for paintings. Below are the other three paintings making a suite of four Raven Rocks paintings.
The View From Here
From Where We Stand

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

all things creative

For a long time I have kept this place, BlueBird Hill, solely about my art. Paintings, sketchbooks, and drawings have been the theme. Now I have decided that BlueBird Hill should be a home for all the parts of this creative life, not just paintings. In my last post I introduced my fabric design adventures. And something else that I love to do is crochet.
So now, on occasion, I will be posting a crochet creation. I have added a few of these to my Etsy shop and will be adding more in the near future, simply because I crochet all the time and my closets are full! All of the hours spent waiting while Kiddo is in classes, or when watching our favorite tv series, I crochet. I find crocheting to be a very meditative activity and I love putting together new color and stitch combinations to make something new.

Baby blankets and market bags are two of my favorite things to crochet. Next I will be working on scarves, cowls and maybe a shawl or two.

I'd love for you to stop by my Etsy shop and check out my new section dedicated to crochet!

*the patterns for the baby blankets and the market bags are inspired by patterns from the wonderful knitter/crocheter and artist, Jennifer Edwards. Thank you Jennifer for your inspirations!

Friday, October 7, 2016

sketchbook :: my other sketchbook

This past summer I began a sketchbook dedicated solely to playing with shape and color. I initially began these exercises because I hated to waste the paint left on my palette after I had completed a painting. I do like to start with fresh color when I begin a new painting but oh, those colors left on my palette called me to make something creative before washing them away.
These "palette exercises" soon became a meditative experience that I look forward to doing before the start of a new painting. By using my beginners mind in this way, what I paint is only inspired by the colors I see there, with no preconceived notion of where it is going or what it will become.
Then the "what would happen if" thoughts started to surface. I put one of my sketches into my very basic photoshop program and played with turning it every which way. Well, that looked interesting!
Which led me to explore Spoonflower, the place where you can upload designs and play with various repeats and scale. This was becoming too much fun!
A new adventure has begun!
I am calling these my "Zen Palette" designs. And my "other" sketchbook is continuing to be filled as I find this routine of creating these little meditative color studies a very satisfying studio practice. By making these I create a space where nothing is forced. Sometimes it's good to just follow along where the ideas lead you.

You can see my Zen Palette collection here.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The View From Here

The View From Here
11 x 14 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Here is the next in the series of Raven Rocks paintings coming from my sketchbook studies. I am enjoying working with this theme of mountain vistas from the Blue Ridge Parkway. I am finding that I am making paintings that feel more like "me" in terms of color and style. And that's a good thing as it keeps me returning as a curious explorer to the subject.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

sketchbook :: a new Seawhite sketchbook

I am continuing with the Raven Rocks overlook theme by exploring compositions and color in my sketchbook. Above is one of the last sketches that finished my Strathmore 500 Series 8.5 x 11 inch Mixed Media sketchbook. Here I used charcoal, watercolor, watercolor pencil, Neocolor II watercolor crayons, and Inktense blocks. Although I like the Stathmore Mixed Media sketchbooks as a sturdy studio sketchbook I had found another, new to me, sketchbook to try.
It's a sketchbook made by Seawhite of Brighton and I chose the 10 inch square format. It is cloth bound with a hard cover and has a whopping 190 pages, so it's a hefty book. One of the first things that I noticed is that it stays flat when opened so there is no struggle with clips or holding the pages down when trying to work in it. The paper is 140gsm(95lb) all media cartridge paper, and it is a nice, bright white. So far, it has held up very nicely to everything I have thrown at it. There is some buckling when the paper gets very wet (and I tend to do that) but I don't mind because it is a sketchbook after all. The sketch above was also done with mixed water media.
I was curious how it would be for straight watercolor painting and I was very pleased with the way the paper in this book handles paint. I like to paint very wet and drop in color to allow it to mix on the paper and that method worked well with this paper. I have had sketchbooks that were so heavily sized that the paint would just sit there which was very frustrating for the way I like to work. I also found that lifting paint was not a problem on this paper either, so the sizing seems about right. This sketch was done with watercolor only.
So all-in-all I am happy to be working in this sketchbook. My studio sketchbooks do become a mix of studies, notes, quick visual thinkings, an occasional watercolor or pencil sketch, and more notes. I like that this has a lot of pages to accommodate all of that. Although because of its size I doubt I'll be hauling it around very far for plein air painting, but I already have a nice watercolor sketchbook to fill that purpose. The sketch above is also with mixed water media. I have more exploring to do yet with this Raven Rocks theme.

Use cheap colors, if you will, but buy good paper - fifty percent and more of your watercolors depends on the paper you use. 
Work very wet and don't be afraid of the colors running into each other. 
Use more color, play with it, yell at me with color. 
Give me something dripping with sunlight - make some horrible free studies.
~Charles W. Hawthorne~

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


11 x 14 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

I am still exploring compositions gathered from Raven Rocks overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This painting comes from my first batch of sketchbook studies, looking for those spots of sun and shadow on the mountains while exploring more personal color choices and methods of paint application. I am enjoying the process of seeing where these paintings will take me.

It is not the sentimental viewpoint but the earnest seeking to see beauty - in the relation 
of one tone against another - which expresses truth - the right attitude. If you're a thoughtful humble student of nature, you'll have something to say - you don't have to tell a story. 
You can't add a thing by thinking - what you are will come out.
~ Charles W. Hawthorne ~ 
from Hawthorne on Painting

Friday, September 16, 2016

From Where We Stand

From Where We Stand
11 x 14 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

After spending this past week working up sketch studies from one of my Raven Rocks images, I chose this composition for painting. I am finding my sketchbook explorations valuable in helping me reach what I am after with composition, color, and light.

Too often I find myself caught up in the subject of a painting and I forget 'why' I want to express this in paint in the first place. By studying the subject first with much exploration I can search out and define the 'why', where exactly does my interest lie? Right now, I find this is a very satisifying way of working.

In other news, I have another gallery representing my artwork. In addition to With These Hands gallery on Edisto Island, South Carolina, I now have paintings available at Hands Gallery in downtown Boone, North Carolina. Hands Gallery has a wonderful mix of art from local artists and crafters. Do stop in for a visit the next time you are in town!

Monday, September 12, 2016

sketchbook :: moving forward

For some time now I have been using my sketchbooks more as working sketchbooks than illustrated journals. They become filled with scribbles of ideas and notes, lots of notes. I have been feeling a bit stagnant with my art and new ideas keep popping up and my sketchbooks are the safe place to explore and try out various media and approaches to visual expression. And two recent events seem to have collided to inspire a renewed interest in my sketchbook studies and my approach to making art.
One was a recent drive up on the Blue Ridge Parkway where we and stopped at the Raven Rocks overlook, and I snapped several photos.
It was a glorious September day and I delighted in the clouds drifting in the bright blue sky creating shadows on the distant mountain ridges.
From those photo references I am working up sketchbook studies, focusing on what interests me most about each scene. I love the deepening of the late season greens along with the warm spots of sun on the mountain sides. I am trying out a variety of media, curious to see what happens with my mark making and color choices. Some, maybe a few, of these studies will eventually find their way into larger works. But for right now, the value is in the study.

And that is where the other recent event comes in. Last week I took part in Tara Leaver's 7 Day Challenge. The goal was to create a series of seven small works in as many days. The parameters of the challenge were left up to each artist to set for themselves. I chose to experiment with my approach to watercolor while working from one photo reference, exploring various views within that singular scene. It was a whirlwind of a week, creating a new work everyday all the while working in a way that was new and unfamiliar. I got out ALL my water media supplies and tested various approaches to getting marks of color on paper. It was a fun and enlightening experience as I learned just how much change I was comfortable with in my work and when the steps were too big to take all at once. It was with this exercise concentrated in one week that inspired me to return to the practice of creating sketchbook studies.
Here are the finished pieces from Tara Leaver's 7 Day Challenge. And here is her blog post wrapping up the experience with lots of wonderful art to see.

All of my sketchbook images above were made in a Strathmore 500 series mixed media 8.5 x 11" sketch journal, using watercolor, graphite, watercolor pencils and crayons, and Inktense blocks.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

so long summer

Backyard Summer
8 x 12 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

It has been a long and very warm summer here in our Southern Mountains. And the flowers in our yard have been just glorious. We have a patch of Black Eyed Susans that I love to see in bloom every year, they are such happy flowers. And I am glad that I took the opportunity to paint them before we say good bye to another summer.


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