Monday, October 30, 2017

A Furry Muse

"Moscow # 3"   Pastel  12 x 14 © Donna Gross
Oh my little obnoxious Moscow....You have already met him in a previous post!  Perhaps you remember the tale of his near death experience and the $4000.00 vet bill we paid for his survival and recovery!  That incident bought this little teenager male a permanent ticket for an indoor life...certain frustration for him .... and quite the hassle for our household to be wary every time one of us opens a door to the outdoor world.  Escapes do happen.  
Last week, "Houdini" escaped again.  As I was in the garden working, I heard the all too familiar screech of a cat fight.  You see, every time Moscow, who is a very petite cat, manages to dash under our noses and under our toes outside, a resident "Tom" comes on over for a little bullying.
Sure enough, broom in hand, I rushed to the sound of feline distress only to find Moscow tangling with Tom.  Needless to say, Moscow was losing....pinned on his back, that big bully had him. 
I broke up the fight.  Fur flying and cats scurrying away, it wasn't until a bit later that my little trouble maker came a running home.  Yep, his little body was riddled with scratch marks and maybe even a bite or two.   
Off to the vet we go ..... again... antibiotics, exam, the works....$200.00 later.... He's valued now at $4200.00 retail!  But let me tell you, he is priceless as my muse....

My reference photo

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Bold and Colorful Autumn Aspens

"Crisp Autumn Color"  Pastel  5 x 7 © Donna Gross
Available contact artist

Today, here on the Central Coast of California, delivered overcast skies and cooler temperatures...blessed relief!  The older I get the less I can tolerate heat and we have had unseasonable warm days lately here in Santa Cruz.  So waking up today to gray foggy skies was a welcome change.  After the usual morning coffee, scouring the newspaper, and other daily chores, I set off to the grocery store to stock up for the week.  My husband came along for company and it made the foray ever more tolerable.  Coming home with multiple grocery bags to unpack, I reminded myself not to complain about this least favorite domestic chore...certainly a "first world problem" to complain about having to unpack a week's worth of food.  I reminded myself of my incredible good fortune just to have a grocery store with stocked shelves, let alone the food I brought home.  And so I gratefully put the groceries away.....
The piece above is a reworking of the piece  below...What a change ! I sprayed the original with fixative to give it a new surface and reinvented ..... I am pleased with the result....which one do you like better?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Seasonal Fruit

" Curious Gourd"   Pastel  5 x 7 © Donna Gross
What do you make of this curious shape?  Is it a fruit or a vegetable?  In the grocery store, it is marketed as an ornamental gourd....alongside are miniature pumpkins and other oddly shaped curiosities .... some with bumps and warts...
I am surely not going to eat this!  It decorates my kitchen window sill along with other miniature "ornamentals" apt for the fall season.  Today I wanted to paint a still life with directional light...and so I did just that! Simple as that!

Monday, October 23, 2017

More Seasonal Art

"Autumn Marsh #2"  Pastel  8 x 10 © Donna Gross
What a homecoming weekend at Cal.  Visiting my daughter at UC Berkeley for Parent's Weekend was fun filled and quite active.  My legs can tell you how many miles I put on my "dogs" the past two days!  This past weekend was a weekend of firsts for me.  
Saturday's football game with the Cal Golden Bears vs. Arizona State Wildcats was the first football game I have ever attended.  While I am not a sports fan in any sense of the word....often really not even knowing what season which sport is played...I have to say that the college spirit was quite the spectacle.  
Opening with the Cal Marching Band and finishing with fireworks to summon the players onto the field, I was captivated by the whole event.  Around me were alumni no doubt...couples who probably met there at Cal many moons ago and make this homecoming a yearly tradition. When my mind wandered from the gladiator type machinations of the helmeted colorful bodies bashing into each other, I guessed at the stories each of these couples could they met...what they majored in...grad school...marriage and now children or even grandchildren carrying on the Cal tradition...
And so there I was , sitting in a stadium with a 63,000 person capacity, attending a sport I have no interest in and perhaps have great reservations about...But I was at Cal and my daughter was sitting next to me and we were now part of this whole university experience. 
The next day we ventured up a grand hill to the botanical we got up the hill was also a first for me!  Deciding that walking up the 1.8 miles at a steep incline was out of the question and it being Sunday so the UC transit was taking the day off, we called an Uber driver! 
After downloading the app, entering a few bits of information including how I would pay for this service, we entered our location and our destination of desire and Voila!  He arrived in less than 3 minutes!  Magic!  I have clearly arrived.....
As for today's painting, I just can't seem to get enough of this autumn spirit...
Happy Autumn!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Pumpkin Patch Orange Madness!!

"Pumpkin Trio"   Watercolor  8 x 10
Available contact artist

What is it about pumpkins?  They appear only during autumn and soon after Halloween they disappear....In the weeks leading up to the holiday, here on the Central Coast of California, and in particular the San Mateo unspoiled stretch of coastline , which for California took an act of congress to preserve.... there are patches of orange amid the dried grasses and chaparral.....the fields have the obligatory scarecrow and resident ravens and red winged blackbirds.....and delighted people of all ages roam about finding the perfect shape...Personally I go for the stem....For me a pumpkin must have a notable stem...perhaps a reminant of a curly vine as well....and yes, the shape is quite important...I mean's about the shape of the gourd, n'est pas?
As for the actual carving potential, bigger is definitely better...wielding a sharp butcher knife and plunging into the almost impenetrable exterior, you need a large margin for error....there is no better killjoy than a trip to the emergency room...
I keep my carving design simply classic...and I save the detail for a safer expression of art....
The piece I am sharing with you today is a watercolor I did a year ago.... I have dabbled in this medium a few times. It takes an immense amount of restraint to produce the effect of light....perhaps a juicy pastel will follow...

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Happy Birthday to Me!

"Self Portrait"  11x16  Pastel © Donna Gross
Today's post is a self portrait that I did in a community college class some years back.  It was done in charcoal and pastel on Mi Tientes pastel paper.  I post this to remind myself how far I have come as an artist!  This does resemble me , but I must say ages me quite a bit! 
Today is my birthday!  I spent it taking a ballet class in the morning followed by a luxurious hour and a half massage at a local day spa! Ah! My kind of birthday.  I have been showered with lovely gifts from the most important people in my wonderful and generous husband, incredible son who is so good to me, and my daughter who is having the time of her life at UC Berkeley learning something new everyday!  How lucky am I? Life is very good to me...I never take for granted the abundance that is my life....I hope I can share a little bit of my creativity with the world with this art blog and hope that many of you follow along on my journey.....

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Little Joy Coming Your Way!

"Humming Along"   Pastel  6x6  © Donna Gross

Dear friends,
With all the tragedy in the news these days, I wanted to spend my afternoon painting a little joy....
Hummingbirds are joyful , busy little creatures whirring about my garden daily.  We provide bird food for all the birds in our neighborhood...our yard is the place to be!  Our resident hummers eagerly gobble up the sugar water we provide in their special feeders.... competing with other visitor hummers , our residents put on a display of territorial behavior that is exciting to watch.
Today's painting was done on Ampersand pastel board using Sennelier soft was my first time using this brand of pastel board.  Having been used to sanded paper, this board was contrarily smooth . The pastel went on smooth and luscious!  So much fun!
My reference photo was provided by Sue Farris on the website  which is a website chalk full (pardon the pun!)  of copyright free reference photos that amateur photographers generously contribute.  Check it out for yourself to see some great photos and also artwork!

My reference photo 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Good Practice

 "Reclining"  A figure study   18x24  charcoal  © Donna Gross

Today I spent the afternoon in the studio with one of my favorite masters of figure drawing , Susie Wilson.
Susie Wilson Art @pommegraphisfineart
I have studied with Susie for a couple years now.  It is always a treat to sit with her in her classroom for a 3 hour session drawing from a live model.  Susie has been instrumental in teaching me how to "see" ....that is to draw what you actually see with your eyes and not draw what your brain knows's about seeing shapes and then relating them to render the image in front of you!  I can think of no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon!  Look for this image later on as I add color and expression and movement painting it in pastel!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

California on Fire

"Inferno"   Pastel  5x7  © Donna Gross
Available contact artist
Greetings friends...
I am back from my travels to the Big Sky Country of Montana.  Flying home over the north bay area of California in the early evening hours, I could see my state on fire.  
I have a sister in the evacuated area now and I am sitting pins and needles.  The forces of nature are showing their's painting had a limited palette....mostly the hues of fire and smoke.
The Earth is in turmoil.  So many natural events have occurred in a short period of time....earthquakes in Mexico, hurricanes in the southeast and Puerto Rico and the Caribbean...and the fires of the northwest of the US...and now here in my near backyard.  These events remind me of my small place in the world and my personal responsibility to keep my footprint as small as possible.
To all those affected by the Somoma/Napa fires and other disasters , my thoughts are with you ..
Be safe.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Travel Memories

"Zion National Monument"    Pastel    9x12   © Donna Gross

Well, another trip is wrapping up.  Tomorrow I head for home with wonderful memories of my time spent here in Big Sky Country with longtime friends.  I had some time to sketch with ink in my sketchbook and also complete a few pastel studies with my pastel pencils.  I am eager to review my photos and start a new pastel painting rich with memories , reference photos, and studies.
Today's painting was a piece I completed in the studio using a reference studio.  I visited Zion about 11 years ago.... the memories are still fresh in my mind and as vivid as the colors I used in this piece. Hope you enjoy !

Friday, October 6, 2017

On a Dock with Curious Ducks!

"Moored in the Morning Light"   Pastel   5x7   © Donna Gross
Good morning from Whitefish, Montana!  There is quite the art community in this little resort hamlet of population 7000. Last night was "First Thursday Art Walk" here .....what timing for me!  I was treated to viewing several gallery open houses where some artists were present.   Of course I introduced myself and picked their brains on techniques , approaches, inspiration, etc.  Up here in Northwest Montana, western art is what sells. Landscapes of the surrounding area which features the magnificent Glacier National Park .  Many pieces depicted animals of this area...grizzled bears,

wolves, elk, bighorn sheep... Also a great many canvases depicted Native American life before colonization. 
One gallery I visited called Sunni World Art Gallery displayed the owner's sculptures which were amazing.  Hyper-realistic and life size, the head busts almost began to move as I stared in amazement at the artistry and technical accomplishment.
As an emerging fine artist, I am grabbing every opportunity to view art...whether in my home town or 
during my travels....I also find lovely places to paint!
My view

My morning companions!!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Aspens in Autumn

"Aspens in Autumn"   Pastel   5x7  © Donna Gross

There is nothing quite like the beauty and shimmer of aspens in the fall light....The sun is lower in the sky now  and the light makes everything more chromatic...almost like looking through a Polaroid lense...
Awakening to the sound of the train conductor announcing our arrival into Whitefish, Montana, I found myself scurrying to gather my belongings and myself within a ten minute time frame!  Not the way I usually wake up!  I think I had my pajama top still on under my goose jacket!
After gathering my bearings and finding the necessary cup of coffee, I secured a shuttle to my lodging for the night. Later this morning I embarked on foot to see what this charming ski resort town just west of Glacier National Park had to offer.   I headed out to Whitefish Lake with my pastels in tow.  I found a picnic table!! The aspens surrounding the table ,which had a view of the expansive lake, were inviting me .....
Today I found the pencils I have been using on this trip an excellent tool for rendering a bit of pointillism work for the palette is limited but my memory of this beautiful setting is not! Enjoy this study of fall foliage...
Happy Autumn 🍂 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

On the Road with Pastel Pencils

"Shadow Play"   5x7  Pastel  © Donna Gross

I am still traveling and finding time to draw with pastel pencils.....Am I painting or drawing?   When I have pencils in my hands, it feels more akin to drawing like with colored pencils.  When I have those luscious sticks of pastel chalk , I am painting.  To me these pencil works are studies for more in depth work later on.....I am able to capture the values, choose the colors, and provide composition and perspective for a more in depth and perhaps a bigger work of art.  I am working with Faber- Castell pencils which I enjoy for quick studies. Keeping them sharp and in good working order is a bit more tricky.  I find that sharpening them can result in broken off tips and I feel I need to take special care when using the sharpener.
Tonight I am sleeping on a train in a sleeper car. What a way to go! All Aboard!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Klamath River Basin

"Cat Tails in the Wind"     Pastel   5x7 © Donna Gross
Greetings friends....
I have been traveling the past 4 days!  I decided to take a train adventure!  What fun to sleep in a roommette while being rocked to sleep. Eating in the dining car is another experience as you are seated with fellow travelers and therefore find yourself in a social situation with strangers!  I love to really puts my small life into perspective.  Seeing just how small I am in this great wide world is humbling.....
The piece I sketched today was done with Faber-Castell pastel pencils on Mi Tientes touch sanded paper.  I battled the wind and found myself chasing after some of my ai worked very quickly. Working quickly with minimal marks produced a pleasing piece for me!

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