Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sketchbook Tuesday - What's not there

From our upstairs bedroom window, looking west, this is the view. Except that there is the forest of trees on our property and those across the way below us, whose branches reach upward and are between my window view and the hills beyond. As I was taken with the glowing pastel spring colors of the evening sky, I left all of those tree branches out of my little sketch. Maybe I'll put them in later. Or not.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Painting #25 - Between The Light

Between The Light
oil on canvas
6 x 8 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

From a visit to Nags Head, and a walk on the beach before the rains came. This is #25 in my 100 painting project.

We have a busy week coming up with Kiddo's dance rehearsals and performances. It's that time again, full of excitement and craziness, and then it's done. At least until the next performance. I sure could use a walk on the beach about now.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Painting #24 - Soundside

oil on canvas
6 x 9 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

I enjoy the challenge of painting water, its surface, depth, and movement. I am also attracted to edges in the landscape. Where the field meets the tree line, or in this case, where the water meets land. Only in marshy places that edge isn't always so well defined, and the rising and falling tide can make for dramatic variations within the course of a day. This rhythm of water and land is fascinating to me. Which probably explains why I have so many reference photos of marshes, shore lines, creeks and rivers. I am sure my traveling companions tire of my constant quest for one more marsh to photograph, one more view of the shore because of the changing light. This view is from the boardwalk in the park in the town of Duck, NC, looking out at the Currituck Sound that separates the Outer Banks from the mainland.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sketchbook Tuesday - Spring still comes

My lilac bush will bloom this year. It doesn't always. Some springs we get a freeze or an ice storm after the blossoms have begun to form and then there are no blooms that year. But we have had enough of ice storms (in addition to all that snow) this past winter to last us a good while. Everywhere the trees are budding in spite of their damaged limbs. It is difficult to find a tree anywhere around here that doesn't show some sign of damage from our ice storms this past winter. Half broken limbs hang precariously suspended in the remaining branches of damaged trees. All along every roadway are piles of broken limbs waiting for crews to come gather them up with their mulching machine. Trees that are bent way over, trees that are nearly split in two, are still putting out buds right on time this spring. Entire hillsides of trees that look like they were attacked by some kind of giant weed whacker are showing a softening to their limbs with their tiny leaves just beginning to appear. It is a very welcome spring here in our mountains. It is an especially good spring when my lilac blooms.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Painting #23 - Pansy

oil on canvas
8 x 8 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Along with still life I thought I'd try painting a few flowers. This pansy is from a photo I took last fall at a garden center. And here it is, time for flowers again. I used to paint flowers quite a lot and I enjoy them as subject matter for paintings. So I am looking forward to seeing what flowers I may find for inspiration this season.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sketchbook Tuesday - Spring fever

Blooms are everywhere. Spring looks like it's going to hang around here for a while. Our days have been perfectly beautiful and it is glorious. This is a recent page from my sketchbook, although it isn't quite finished, which is why you don't see the entire spread. I sketched with black grape colored pencil and then scribbled with Neocolor II crayons, then washed with water. Added in a bit more later by touching my water brush to the tip of the Neocolors to paint in a few darker values. Fun stuff.

It's spring fever.
That is what the name of it is.
And when you've got it, 
you want - oh, you don't quite know
what it is you do want,
but it just fairly
makes your heart ache,
you want it so!
-Mark Twain

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Painting #22 - Pears

oil on canvas
8 x 8 inches 
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Moving along with posting these paintings, this is #22 of my 100painting project. And just to mix things up a bit, I am including a few still life studies. What I am learning from doing still life in oil is just how valuable drawing skills are to a painter. There is no fudging a solid foundation in drawing when tackling a still life in paint. Had I not spent these past few years concentrating on improving my observation and drawing skills, painting even a simple still life such as this would have been a much more difficult, if not impossible, task to pull off. If I were teaching painting I would tell my students, "Draw. And then draw some more."

Friday, April 9, 2010

Painting #21 - Stillness

oil on canvas
6 x 8 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky
For purchase information click here

This is a scene from Price Park off the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of our favorite locations for a leisurely walk with our dogs. The trail follows a creek for a ways, then meanders off through an open field before coming back along the creek again. Our springer loves splashing in the water. Our corgi, not so much.

Back in January I mentioned my reading list for the year that is in part connected to my interest in landscape imagery and my 100 painting project. These books include, The American Transcendentalists, Essential Writings by Buell, American Wilderness by Millhouse, and Nature and Culture by Novak (which I have not yet begun reading). I am still working through these books, since I read more than one book at a time, and in spurts, leaving space to take in what I have read. I have also added Goat Song by Kessler, which isn't so much about landscape, yet it is in the same sense that the writings of Annie Dillard and Thoreau are about the landscape, or rather our relationship with nature. So I thought it may be a good time to share some of the discoveries I have made so far in my studies of the American Transcendentalist movement and the Hudson River School Painters. As I progress in these readings, maybe I will be better able to work out just what it is about the landscape, and natural objects, that continues to captivate me, keeping me coming back in drawing and painting.

* It is a Transcendentalist claim that the human self is inherently divine.
* Hudson River painter Asher Durand defined the artist's mission as one to depict nature as it may have been at the time of Creation.
*The Transcendentalists' interest in nature created a greater interest in landscape painting in the public's view and landscape imagery moved from the idea that it was an inferior art to one of great popularity.
*The untamed American wilderness spoke to the ideal of landscape as an unspoiled paradise.
* In 1841, the invention of the tin paint tube allowed artists to paint in the field and Asher Durand's paintings were causing a stir as he was exhibiting studies done in the field as finished works that followed nature's arrangement as opposed to conventional modes of composition.

Wherever the notion of paradise exists, so does the idea that it was lost. Paradise is always in the past, an unachievable land, an unattainable state. It elicits nostalgia and longing and sometimes bitterness.

Maybe the Garden is within or exists in the holiness of daily labor, the body making food for itself, or maybe it surrounds us every second if only we open our eyes.

-Brad Kessler, Goat Song

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Painting #20 - Wandering Grace - and our winner is. . .

 Wandering Grace
oil on canvas
6 x 9 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Some paintings look perfect when I upload them to this blog and others just defy color correction. This is one of those defiant paintings. I calibrate my monitor every two weeks. I adjusted the color in Photoshop pretty darn close to the original. I checked my color profiles. It looks great on my screen. Then I uploaded the file here and presto, the colors are changed. You will just have to take my word for it that the yellows of the marsh grasses are a little yellower and the blue of the water in the foreground is less cyan than it appears here.

This is another view of the marshes from  the Low Country of South Carolina, near Edisto Island. I know that I need to start blogging of these paintings more frequently, as I now have quite a backlog of work in this 100 painting project. But the weather has just been way too nice these days to stay indoors for long.

Now here's what you all stopped by for today. I put all of the names entered for my give-away in my Edisto Beach hat.
With a popsicle in one hand, and with much ceremony, Kiddo selected a name. . .
and the winner is Deni! Congratulations Deni! If you will email me your mailing info, to ann (at) bluebirdhill (dot) com, I will send the cards right off to you. Thank you to everyone that entered my little give-away. You all make blogging so much fun!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sketchbook Tuesday - Yellow

The color of spring. Fresh strawberries with lemon cake.
Last week our forsythia started to bud. I sat beside the driveway and did this quick sketch while Kiddo played basketball. We have been experiencing just gorgeous, spring days. The memory of our harsh winter still a little too fresh, we are drawn outdoors as often and for as long as we possibly can. This week the forsythia is a riot of yellow blossoms. Another good reason to head outside.

Don't forget to comment on the previous post before midnight tonight for a chance to win a set of four Print of the Month greeting cards!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April print of the Month and Give-away - No Foolin'!

 My graphite drawing, Zen Stones, is the image I chose to feature for April's Print of the Month. Prints and cards of this drawing are available from Imagekind.

And here are the featured prints as greeting cards from the first four months of this year. I am enjoying these printed greeting cards so much that I have decided to give this first set of four away to one lucky winner. To be entered into the contest all you have to do is leave a comment here, on this post, by midnight (EST) Tuesday, April 6th. I will then have a very unscientific, low tech, drawing from all the names in a hat and announce the winner here on Wednesday April 7, or maybe on Thursday April 8. You will just have to check back to find out who that lucky winner is. Sorry I can't be more definite about my blogging schedule, but if next week is as lovely as it was here today, I will be spending as much time as possible out doors. Happy April!


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