Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Let's play

My watercolor sketch today is from a view at Botany Bay, at Edisto Island, South Carolina. In addition to my hand made sketch journal I also have been keeping a small sketch pad going for watercolor practice. Sometimes I copy exercises from watercolor instruction books, and sometimes I try out techniques and methods with my own reference images. My hand made sketch books are generally where I record information, whether visual or written. These watercolor sketch pads are where I play.

The first line for the entry "play" at Wikipedia describes the activity of play as "a range of voluntary, intrinsically motivated activities that are normally associated with pleasure and enjoyment." But for me, this play isn't easy. It's all about practice with this watercolor media that in my mind, continues to mystify and elude my understanding. As soon as I hit upon a method that works okay for me I am wanting to try another way to approach watercolor painting. I think it's because of my perceived difficulty with this media that I keep at it, as a form of play. It's all about the process rather than the product. If it were easy for me to accomplish what I want with watercolor, I probably would have moved on to something else by now. And as for my investment of time and materials, well, all of my watercolor supplies have, as any parent knows, tremendous "play value".

Compared to other challenges, 
the ultimate shortcoming of technical problems is not that they're hard, 
but that they're easy. 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Simple Spirit

Simple Spirit
oil on canvas
6 x 8 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Here is #32 of my 100 painting project. This is a view of the river at Valle Crucis park, on one of those bright, yet overcast, days in late summer. I love these small scenes for their simple intimacy, allowing for a moment or two of quiet reflection. I am fortunate to be able to live in an area that is abundant with places such as this, places that feed the soul. It's something you can't buy in your super-mega-store.

To find the universal elements enough; 
to find the air and the water exhilarating; 
to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter... 
to be thrilled by the stars at night; 
to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring 
- these are some of the rewards of the simple life.  

~John Burroughs

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Southwest Ride
oil on canvas
6 x 8 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Here is #31 of my 100 painting project, another view of the Southwestern landscape taken from our long ago train ride through the New Mexico. Last weekend we went traveling up to the Midwest to visit family. Now that we are home again I am finding it difficult to get back into my routine. It usually takes me a few days to re-group and get my groove back after a trip like that. But it is so very good to be home.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Continuing my obsession with trees here are a couple of recent sketches from my sketchbook. Two views of the same spot in our yard, trying to capture that kaleidoscope feeling of the light filtering through the leaves. Neither one of these satisfies what I was after but I'll keep trying. I can't let go of this idea of painting trees just yet.
So my posting of sketches is a day late only because every time I turned on my computer yesterday another thundershower popped up and off went my computer again. By the time things had settled down last night I was engrossed in reading about trees, more feeding of my obsession.

There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, 
but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it.

-Minnie Aumonier

Friday, June 11, 2010

Taking the train

Southwest Memory
oil on canvas
6 x 8 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Back in 1992, the Professor and I traveled the US by train. We took a little over three weeks and scheduled stops along the way for visiting and sight-seeing. One of the trains that we rode was the Southwest Chief from Chicago to Los Angeles, where we then picked up the Coast Starlight that took us to Seattle. One of our stops while on the Southwest Chief was Santa Fe, New Mexico. I have a ton of photos from that trip as we traveled the perimeter of the western United States. And that was back before digital cameras. I went digging through those photographs a while back and picked out a couple to use a subjects for paintings. This is one of them, from a view that I believe may have been spotted from the train window and photographed. Somewhere in New Mexico probably. Painting #30 of my 100 painting project.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Spirit of the Gulf

I read this post on Dan's blog about The Spirit of the Gulf challenge begun by Suzanne McDermott. Suzanne challenged "every artist who receives this invitation to make one drawing, painting, collage — or to use whatever medium you work in — to create a piece of beauty with love and gratitude to honor some scene or living being in the Gulf. This is a consciousness raising opportunity."  Dan is passing this challenge along to " All of you. You don't need to be connected to the Gulf in any way to feel the impact of this man-made disaster, or to love nature and feel the pain of this violation. I am cordially inviting every reader of this blog to participate, if you care to." And he is right. I have never been to New Orleans or the Gulf coast of Louisiana yet I still feel the pain of this disaster. As I sit here in our beautiful southern mountains my heart is breaking for the unspeakable tragedy that has struck the people, wildlife, waters and landscape of the Gulf region.

The Spirit of the Gulf challenge is to depict some living aspect of the Gulf of Mexico before the oil disaster. I went to Google street view and found this scene of marshland in Venice LA, an area shown on the news' reports as being affected by the oil spill. Even though I have never been to this area, the beauty of the marshy waterway is familiar to me in its similarity to my much loved South Carolina coastal marsh scenes. And of course, as Suzanne pointed out, it is all one sea. This disaster in the Gulf is not just one company's problem, or one state's problem, but a larger problem that belongs to everyone. It is our problem. The real challenge now is to be a part of the solution. And it isn't just about reducing or finding alternatives to the gas we put into our cars or the fuel to heat our homes, although these are very important issues. It is also the seemingly little things that can add up to a bigger problem.

In addition to the watercolor sketch above I am also working on a painting in oil of this very same scene. As soon as it is dry enough I will post it here as a part of my 100 painting challenge. I plan to offer it for sale as well, perhaps on Ebay this time, with the proceeds going to the National Wildlife Federation.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Clearly scattered

Apple Time
oil on canvas
6 x 6 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Here is painting #29 of my 100 painting project. Doing these little paintings is giving me so many ideas for works I would like to do, larger works, and themes I would like to explore. In the past, whenever I would get some fantastic new idea for a series, I would often start but then not take that idea through to it's conclusion. Somewhere along the way I would get some other fantastic new idea and then explore that for a bit until after a while I had several series going where I had only just begun to play with a particular concept. So this 100 painting project is proving to be a good discipline for my scattered mind. It is something simple to achieve from start to finish, a good, clear goal. And while I am focused on this project, I allow my ideas to run wild, taking lots of notes, making plans and revising those plans, so that I just maybe will be ready for the next clear goal to set.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sketchbook Tuesday and June Print of the Month!

We just love our local farmers' market. Not a lot of produce this time of year, yet still plenty to see with all the herbs, flowers and crafts. And it is wonderful to see the familiar faces of the vendors after our long winter months. One of our favorite growers had the most gorgeous spinach last Saturday. And it was delicious.
Continuing my obsession with trees in watercolor, I sat on our deck and tried to paint one of the trees in our wooded back yard. It is very difficult to determine where one tree ends and another begins in this setting. I did get lost in the branches but it was an enjoyable exercise anyway. And our foxgloves are blooming! Our flower garden backs up to the woods on the eastern side of our yard. So all of the flower blossoms tend to point west, toward the daily march of sunshine across the cleared area of our yard.
And finally, here is my pick for June's Print of the Month. It is from my original colored pencil piece, Wave I, available as note cards and fine art prints from Imagekind. Happy June everyone!


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