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

Daydream

Daydream
watercolor
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
watercolor
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
watercolor
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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

simple hours

Simple Hours
watercolor
10 x 14 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

When hiking along the Blue Ridge Parkway in these mountains you sometimes come upon a setting that suggests that particular spot was once more cultivated than it is now. Maybe a farm was once there, or a cabin with a garden that is long gone over into wildness again. This is one of those places, with a small stand of apple trees left alone out on a hillside, reminiscent of a more simple time long ago.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

where this road goes

Where This Road Goes
watercolor
10 x 14 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

I have been making larger paintings recently and really enjoying the freedom that a bigger composition provides. I find bigger brushes filled with watery pigment very satisfying somehow. This one is a quarter sheet size watercolor paper which makes for a longer format than what I typically would paint. And that creates challenges in the way I handle composition. A vertical format such as this allows for more distance, which is what I was hoping for with this scene. Far away mountains and a meadow at your feet. And those blue flowers? I don't know, except that they seemed the right sort of whimsy to add to the scene.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

only what matters

Behind Pompano
watercolor
6 x 8 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

This painting is inspired by a view of a small canal that runs behind Pompano Street on Edisto Beach, SC. It is a scene that I have attempted to paint several times yet was never satisfied with the result. I was trying to say too much with too many details. The heavy stillness of that lowcountry air with the quiet water that rises with the tide eluded all of my previous attempts. Now finally, by simplifying the elements in the scene, I have a painting that captures what I was after and by now it is a scene that I know very well!

Coneflowers
watercolor
6 x 8 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

By contrast, this painting was one that came about rather quickly and effortlessly. Although I have painted the coneflowers from our garden in the past, I usually fussed about with them looking for a different, more literal result. Here I went straight in with paint with no preliminary sketching. I have found I am usually more successful getting what I am after painting flowers this way as I am better able to express the freshness that is flowers.

With both paintings it was the stripping down the subject to just the essentials that provided me with the best success. Yes, there is a lesson to be learned here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

breezy

By The Sea
watercolor
8 x 10 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

This painting is intended as a study for a larger work. The image comes from the Golden Asters that grow right up near the beach. The painting was an experiemnt in creating a method for communicating the tangled mess that is these flowers all the while keeping that breezy beach feeling.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Red Geranium on Blue Chair

Red Geranium on Blue Chair
watercolor
11 x 14 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

A blue chair sits on our little side porch and is our prop for seasonal decorations. In summer it's a potted flower, this year a bright red geranium. I love when the morning light of summer streams onto the little porch making patterns of shadow dance across the side of the house there. When I was thinking about making a painting from this image I imagined all sorts of ways to approach it. I thought about including marks of drawing, perhaps abstracting that scroll of the plant stand in the corner, adding pattern possibly with stenciled shapes, and on and on. In the end I just painted, and enjoyed finding the washy shadows and light filled leaves with my paint brush.

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